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Full text of "Epistolae Ho-Elianae : the familiar letters of James Howell"

EPISTOL^ HO-ELIANiE 



CHARLES I 



FROM THE PAINTING, AFTER VANDYCK, BY SI 
PETER LELY IN THE DRESDEN GALLERY 



Cpistolae HO'CUanae 



THE FAMILIAR LETTERS 



OF 



3ame0 floujdl 



With an Introduction by Agnes Repplier 



VOL. Ill 




BOSTON AND NEW YORK 

HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN AND COMPANY 

MDCCCCVII 



COPYRIGHT 1907 BY HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN AND COMPANY 
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 



THIS EDITION CONSISTS OF TWO HUNDRED AND 
TWENTY COPIES OF WHICH THIS IS NUMBER ?^f 



EPISTOLiE HO-ELIAN^ 
SECTION VII 



BOOK II 

SECTION VII 

I 
To Master Tho. Adams 

I PRAY stir nimbly in the business you imparted 
to me last, and let it not languish. You know 
how much it concerns your credit, and the con- 
venience of a friend who deserves so well of you. 
I fear you will meet with divers obstacles in the 
way, which, if you cannot remove, you must over- 
come. A lukewarm, irresolute man did never any- 
thing well ; every thought entangles him. There- 
fore you must pursue the point of your design with 
heat, and set all wheels a-going. 'T is a true badge 
of a generous nature, being once embarked in a 
business, to hoist up and spread every sail, main, 
mizzen, sprit and topsail ; by that means he will 
sooner arrive at his port. If the winds be so cross, 
and that there be such a fate in the thing that it 
can take no effect, yet you shall have wherewith 
to satisfy an honest mind, that you left nothing 
unattempted to compass it, for in the conduct of 
human affairs it is a rule that a good conscience 
hath always within doors enough to reward itself. 



4 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

though the success fall not out according to the 
merit of the endeavour. 

I was, according to your desire, to visit the late 
new-married couple more than once,- and to tell 
you true, I never saw such a disparity between two 
that were made one flesh in all my life, he hand- 
some outwardly but of odd conditions ; she excel- 
lently qualified, but hard favoured. So that the one 
may be compared to a cloth of tissue doublet cut 
upon coarse canvas, the other to a buckram petti- 
coat lined with satin. I think Clotho had her fin- 
gers smutted in snuffing of the candle, when she 
began to spin the thread of her life, and Lachesis 
frowned in twisting it up ; but Aglaia, with the rest 
of the Graces, were in a good humour when they 
formed her inward parts. A blind man is fittest 
to hear her sing ; one would take delight to see 
her dance if masked ; and it would please you to 
discourse with her in the dark, for there she is best 
company, if your imagination can forbear to run 
upon her face. When you marry, I wish you such 
an inside of a wife, but from such an outward 
physiognomy the Lord deliver you, and your 
faithful friend to serve you, J. H. 

Westminster, 25 of August 1633. 



OF JAMES HOWELL 



F. B., 



II 

To Mr B. J. 



THE fangs of a bear and the tusks of a wild 
boar do not bite worse, and make deeper 
gashes, than a goose quill sometimes ; no, not the 
badger himself, who is said to be so tenacious of 
his bite that he will not give over his hold till 
he feels his teeth meet, and the bone crack. Your 
quill hath proved so to Mr Jones, but the pen 
wherewith you have so gashed him, it seems, was 
made rather of a porcupine than a goose quill, it 
is so keen and firm. You know 

Anser, Apis, Vitulus, Populos et Regna gubernant — 

The goose, the bee and the calf (meaning wax, 
parchment and the pen), rule the world, but of 
the three the pen is most predominant. I know 
you have a commanding one, but you must not 
let it tyrannise in that manner, as you have done 
lately. Some give out there was a hair in it, or 
that your ink was too thick with gall, else it 
could not have so bespattered and shaken the 
reputation of a royal architect, for reputation, 
you know, is like a fair structure, long time a-rear- 
ing, but quickly ruined. If your spirit will not 
let you retract, yet you shall do well to repress 
any more copies of the satire, for, to deal plainly 
with you, you have lost some ground at Court 



6 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

by it, and, as I hear from a good hand, the King, 
who hath so great a judgment in poetry (as in all 
other things else), is not well pleased therewith. 
Dispense with this freedom of your respectful 
S. and servitor, J. H. 

Westminster, 3 July 1635. 

Ill 

Ti? Z). C, Esquire 

IN my last I wrote to you that Ch. Mor. was 
dead (I meant in a moral sense). He is now 
alive again, for he hath abjured that club which 
was used to knock him in the head so often, and 
drown him commonly once a day. I discover 
divers symptoms of regeneration in him, for he 
rails bitterly against Bacchus, and swears there 's 
a devil in every berry of his grape, therefore he 
resolves hereafter, though he may dabble a little 
sometimes, he will be never drowned again. You 
know Kit hath a poetic fancy, and no unhappy 
one, as you find by his compositions ; you know 
also that poets have large souls, they have soci- 
able, free, generous spirits, and there are few who 
use to drink of Helicon's water, but they love to 
mingle it with some of Lyseus liquor to heighten 
their spirits. There 's no creature that *s kneaded 
of clay but hath his frailties, extravagances and 
excesses some way or other, for you must not 
think that man can be better out of Paradise than 



OF JAMES HOWELL 7 

he was within it. Nemo sine crimine. He that 
censures the good fellow commonly makes no con- 
science of gluttony and gormandising at home, 
and I believe more men do dig their graves with 
their teeth than with the tankard. They who tax 
others of vanity and pride, have commonly that 
sordid vice of covetousness attend them, and he 
who traduceth others of being a servant to ladies, 
doth baser things. We are no angels upon earth, 
but we are transported with some infirmity or 
other ; and it will be so while these frail, flexible 
humours reign within us ; while we have sluices 
of warm blood running through our veins, there 
must be ofttimes some irregular motions in us. 

This as I conceive is that black bean which the 
Turks' Alcoran speaks of when they feign that 
Mahomet being asleep among the mountains of 
the moon, two angels descended, and ripping his 
breast they took his heart and washed it in snow, 
and after pulled out a black bean, which was the 
portion of the devil, and so replaced the heart. 

In your next you shall do well to congratulate 
his resurrection or regeneration, or rather emerg- 
ency from that course he was plunged in formerly, 
you know it as well as I ; and truly I believe he 
will grow newer and newer every day ; we find 
that a stumble makes one take firmer footing, and 
the base suds which vice useth to leave behind it, 
make virtue afterwards far more gustful : no know- 
ledge is like that of contraries. Kit hath now 
overcome himself, therefore I think he will be too 



8 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

hard for the devil hereafter. I pray hold on your 
resolution to be here the next term, that we may 
tattle a little of Tom Thumb, mine host of An- 
dover, or some such matters. — So T am your 
most affectionate servitor, 

J. H. 
Westminster, 15 August 1636. 

IV 

To T. D., Esquire 

I HAD yours lately by a safe hand, wherein I 
find you open unto me all the boxes of your 
breast. I perceive you are sore hurt, and whereas 
all other creatures run away from the instrument 
and hand that wounds them, you seem to make 
more and more towards both ; I confess such is 
the nature of love, and which is worse, the nature 
of women is such, that like shadows the more you 
follow them, the faster they fly from you. Nay, 
some females are of that odd humour, that to feed 
their pride they will famish affection, they will 
starve those natural passions which are owing 
from them to man. I confess coyness becomes 
some beauties if handsomely acted, a frown upon 
some faces penetrates more and makes deeper 
impression than the fawning and soft glances of a 
mincing smile ; yet if this coyness and these frowns 
savour of pride, they are odious, and it is a rule, 
that where this kind of pride inhabits honour sits 



OF JAMES HOWELL 9 

not long porter at the gate. There are some beau- 
ties so strong, that they are leaguer-proof; they 
are so barricaded that no battery, no petard, or 
any kind of engine sapping or mining can do good 
upon them. There are others that are tenable 
a good while, and will endure the brunt of a siege, 
but will incline to parley at last, and you know 
that fort and female which begins to parley is half 
won. For my part, I think of beauties as Philip, 
King of Macedon, thought of cities, there is none 
so inexpugnable but an ass laden with gold may 
enter into them. You know what the Spaniards 
saith, " Davidas quebrantan penas " (Presents can 
rend rocks). Pearls and golden bullets may do 
much upon the impregnablest beauty that is. It 
must be partly your way. I remember a great 
lord of this land sent a puppy with a rich collar of 
diamonds to a rare French lady, Madame St. L., 
that had come over hither with an ambassador : 
she took the dog, but returned the collar ; I will 
not tell you what effect it wrought afterwards. It 
is a powerful sex ; they were too strong for the 
first, the strongest and wisest man that was ; they 
must needs be strong, when one hair of a woman 
can draw more than a hundred pair of oxen ; yet 
for all their strength, in point of value, if you will 
believe the Italian, a man of straw is worth a wo- 
man of gold. Therefore if you find the thing per- 
verse, rather than to undervalue your sex (your 
manhood), retire handsomely, for there is as much 
honour to be won at a handsome retreat as at a hot 



lo FAMILIAR LETTERS 

onset, it being the difficultest piece of war. By this 
retreat you will get a greater victory than you are 
aware of, for thereby you will overcome yourself, 
which is the greatest conquest that can be. With- 
out seeking abroad, we have enemies enough 
within doors to practise our valour upon ; we have 
tumultuary and rebellious passions with whole 
hosts of humours within us. He who can discom- 
fit them is the greatest captain and may defy the 
devil. I pray recollect yourself, and think on this 
advice of your true and most affectionate servitor, 

J. H. 
Westminster, ^December 1637. 



To G. G., Esq.^ at Rome 

1HAVE more thanks to give you than can be 
folded up in this narrow paper, though it were 
all writ in the closest kind of stenography, for the 
rich and accurate account you please to give me 
of that renowned city wherein you now sojourn. 
I find you have most judiciously pried into all mat- 
ters, both civil and clerical, especially the latter, by 
observing the poverty and penances of the friar, the 
policy and power of the Jesuit, the pomp of the 
prelate and cardinal. Had it not been for the two 
first, I believe the two last, and that see, had been 
at a low ebb by this time, for the learning, the pru- 
dential state, knowledge and austerity of the one, 



OF JAMES HOWELL ii 

and the venerable opinion the people have of the 
abstemious and rigid condition of the other, es- 
pecially of the mendicants, seem to make some com- 
pensation for the lux and magnificence of the two 
last ; besides they are more beholden to the Pro- 
testant than they are aware of, for unless he had 
risen up about the latter end of this last century 
of years, which made them more circumspect and 
wary of their ways, life and actions, to what an 
intolerable high excess that court had come to by 
this time you may easily conjecture. But out of 
my small reading I have observed that no age 
since Gregory the Great hath passed, wherein some 
or other have not repined and murmured at the 
pontifical pomp of that court, yet for my part I 
have been always so charitable as to think that the 
religion of Rome and the Court of Rome were 
different things. The counterbufF that happened 
betwixt Leo the Tenth and Francis the First of 
France is very remarkable, who being both met at 
Bologna, the King seemed to give a light touch at 
the Pope's pomp, saying, it was not used to be so 
in former time. "It may be so," said Leo, "but 
it was then when kings kept sheep " (as we read in 
the Old Testament). "No," the King replied, 
" I speak of times under the Gospel." Then re- 
joined the Pope, "It was then when kings did visit 
hospitals," hinting by those words at St Louis, 
who used oft to do so. It is memorable what is 
recorded in the life of Robert Grosted, Bishop of 
Lincoln, who lived in the time of one of the Leos, 



12 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

that he feared the same sin would overthrow Leo 
as overthrew Lucifer. 

For news hence, I know none of your friends 
but are as well as you left them, " H ombres y 
hembras." You are fresh and very frequent in 
their memory, and mentioned with a thousand 
good wishes and benedictions. Amongst others 
you have a large room in the memory of my Lady 
Elizabeth Gary, and I do not think all Rome can 
afford you a fairer lodging. I pray be cautious 
of your carriage under that meridian ; it is a 
searching (inquisitive) air. You have two eyes and 
two ears, but one tongue. You know my meaning. 
This last you must imprison (as nature hath al- 
ready done with a double fence of teeth and lips) 
or else she may imprison you, according to our 
countryman, Mr Hoskins*, advice when he was 
in the Tower. 

Vincula da linguae, vel tibi lingua dabit. 

Have a care of your health, take heed of the 
Syrens of excess in fruit, and be sure to mingle 
your wine well with water. No more now, but 
that in the large catalogue of friends you have left 
behind here, there's none who is more mindful 
of you than your most affectionate and faithful 
servitor, 

J.H. 



OF JAMES HOWELL 13 

VI 
To Dr r. P. 

1HAD yours of the tenth current, wherein you 
write me tidings of our friend, Tom D., and 
what his desires tend unto. In my opinion they 
are somewhat extravagant. I have read of one, 
that loving honey more than ordinary, seemed to 
complain against nature, that she made not a bee 
as big as a bull that we might have it in greater 
plenty ; another, who was much given to fruit, 
wished that pears and plums were as big as pump- 
kins. These were but silly vulgar wishes. For 
if a bee were as big as a bull it must have a sting 
proportionable, and what mischiefs do you think 
such stings would do when we can hardly endure 
the sting of that small infected animal as now it 
is ? And if pears and plums were as big as pump- 
kins it were dangerous walking in an orchard about 
the autumnal equinox (at which time they are in 
their full maturity) for fear of being knocked in 
the head. Nature, the handmaid of God Almighty, 
doth nothing but with good advice if we make 
researches into the true reason of things. You 
know what answer the fox gave the ape when he 
would have borrowed part of his tail to cover his 
posteriors. 

The wishes you write that T. D. lately made 
were almost as extravagant in civil matters as the 



14 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

aforementioned were in natural. For if he were 
partaker of them they would draw more inconven- 
iences upon him than benefit, being nothing sort- 
able either to his disposition or breeding, and for 
other reasons besides, which I will reserve till my 
coming up. And I pray let him know so much 
from me, with my commendations. — So I rest, 
yours in the perfectest degree of friendship, 

J.H. 
Westminster, 5 September 1640. 

VII 

To Mr T. B,y Merchant in Seville 

THOUGH I have my share of infirmities as 
much as another man, yet I like my own 
nature in one thing, that requitals to me are as 
sweet as revenge to an Italian. I thank my stars 
I find myself far proner to return a courtesy than 
to resent an injury. This made me most gladly 
apprehend the late occasion of serving you (not- 
withstanding the hard measure I have received 
from your brother), and to make you some re- 
turn of those frequent favours I received from you 
in Spain, I have taken away (as you may perceive 
by the enclosed papers) the weights that hung to 
that great business in this court. It concerns you 
now to put wings unto it in that, and I believe 
you will quickly obtain, what useth to be first in 
intention, though last in execution, I mean your 



OF JAMES HOWELL 15 

main end. I heartily wish the thing may be pro- 
sperous unto you, and that you may take as much 
pleasure in the fruition of it as I did in following 
of it for you, because I love you dearly well, and 
desire you so much happiness that you may have 
nothing but heaven to wish for. In which desires 
I rest, your constant true friend to serve you, 

J. H. 
Whitehall, 3 May 1633. 

VIII 
To Doctor B. 

WHEREAS upon the large theoretical dis- 
course and bandyings of opinions we had 
lately at Gresham College you desired I should 
couch in writing what I observed abroad of the 
extent and amplitude of the Christian Common- 
wealth in reference to other religions, I obtained 
leave of myself to put pen to paper, rather to 
obey you than oblige you with anything that may 
add to your judgment or enrich that rare know- 
ledge I find you have already treasured up. But 
I must begin with the fulfilling of your desire in 
a preambular way, for the subject admits it. 

It is a principle all the earth over, except 
amongst atheists, that " Omne verum est a Deo, 
omne falsum est a diabolo, et omnis error ab 
homine '* (All truth is from God, all falsehood 
from the devil, and all error from man). The 



i6 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

last goes always under the vizard of the first, but 
the second confronts truth to the face and stands 
in open defiance of her. Error and sin are con- 
temporary. When one crept first in at the fore- 
door the other came in at the postern. This made 
Trismegistus, one of the great lords of reason, to 
give this character of man, "Homo est imaginatio 
quaedam, et imaginatio est supremum menda- 
cium " (Man is nought else but a kind of imag- 
ination, and imagination is the greatest lie). 
Error, therefore, entering into the world with sin 
among us poor Adamites, may be said to spring 
from the tree of knowledge itself, and from the 
rotten kernels of that fatal apple. This, besides 
the infirmities that attend the body, hath brought 
in perversity of will, depravation of mind, and 
hath cast a kind of cloud upon our intellectuals 
that they cannot discern the true essence of things 
with that clearness as the protoplast our first 
parent could, but we are involved in a mist, and 
grope as it were ever since in the dark, as if truth 
were got into some dungeon, or, as the old wizard 
said, into some deep pit which the shallow appre- 
hension of men could not fathom. Hence comes 
it that the earth is rent into so many religions, 
and those religions torn into so many schisms 
and various forms of devotion, as if the heavenly 
Majesty were delighted as much in diversities of 
worship as in diversities of works. 

The first religion that ever was reduced to 
exact rules and ritual observances was that of the 



OF JAMES HOWELL 17 

Hebrews, the ancient people of God, called after- 
wards Judaism, the second Christianity, the third 
Mahommedanism, which is the youngest of all 
religions. Touching paganism and heathenish 
idolatry they scarce deserve the name of religion. 
But for the former three there is this analogy be- 
tween them, that they all agree in the First Person 
of the Trinity and all His attributes. What kind 
of religion there was before the Flood, it is in 
vain to make any researches, there having been 
no monuments at all left (besides that little we 
find in Moses and the Phoenician story) but Seth's 
pillars, and those so defaced, that nothing was 
legible upon them, though Josephus saith that 
one was extant in his days, as also the oak under 
which Abraham feasted God Almighty, which was 
2000 years after. The religion (or cabal) of the 
Hebrews was transferred from the patriarchs to 
Moses, and from him to the prophets. It was 
honoured with the appearance and promulgations 
of God Himself, especially the better part of it. 
I mean the decalogue containing the Ten Com-' 
mandments, which, being most of them moral 
and agreeing with the common notions of man, 
are in force all the world over. 

The Jews at this day are divided into three sects ; 
the first, which is the greatest, are called the Tal- 
mudists, in regard that besides the Holy Scriptures 
they embrace the Talmud, which is stuffed with 
the traditions of their rabbins and chacams. The 
second receive the Scripture alone. The third the 



1 8 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

Pentateuch only, viz., the five Books of Moses, 
which are called Samaritans. Now, touching what 
part of the earth is possessed by Je\ys, I cannot 
find they have any at all peculiar to themselves, but 
in regard of their murmurings, their frequent idol- 
atries, defections, and that they crucified the Lord 
of life, this once select nation of God, and the in- 
habitants of the land flowing with milk and honey, 
is become now a scorned, squandered people all the 
earth over, being ever since incapable of any coal- 
ition or reducement into one body politic. There 
where they are most without mixture is Tiberias 
in Palestine, which Amurath gave Mendez the Jew, 
whither, and to Jerusalem, upon any conveniency, 
they convey the bones of their dead friends from 
all places to be reinterred. They are to be found 
in all mercantile towns and great marts both in 
Africa and Asia, and Europe, the dominions of 
England, of the Spaniard and French excepted, and 
as their persons, so their profession is despicable, 
being for the most part but brokers everywhere. 
Among other places they are allowed to be in Rome 
herself near St Peter's chair, for they advance trade 
wheresoever they come, with their banks of money, 
and so are permitted as necessary evils ; but put 
the case the whole nation of the Jews now living 
were united into one collective body, yet, accord- 
ing to the best conjecture and exactest computation 
that I could hear made by the knowingest men, 
they would not be able to people a country bigger 
than the seventeen provinces. Those that are dis- 



OF JAMES HOWELL 19 

persed now in Christendom, and Turkey, are the 
remnants only of the tribes of Judah and Benja- 
min, with some Levites who returned from Baby- 
lon with Zerubbabel. The common opinion is, that 
the other ten are utterly lost, but they themselves 
fancy that they are in India, a mighty nation, 
environed with stony rivers, which always cease to 
run their course on their Sabbath, from whence 
they expect their Messiah, who shall in the ful- 
ness of time overrun the world with fire and sword, 
^d re-establish them in a temporal glorious 
estate. But this opinion sways most among the 
Oriental Jews, whereas they of the West attend 
the coming of their Messiah from Portugal, which 
language is more common among them than any 
other. And thus much in brief of the Jews, as 
much as I could digest and comprehend within 
the compass of this paper sheet; and let it serve 
for the accomplishment of the first part of your 
desire. In my next I shall give you the best satis- 
faction I can concerning the extent of Christian- 
ity up and down the globe of the earth, which I 
shall speedily send ; for now that I have under- 
taken such a task, my pen shall not rest till I have 
finished it. — So I am your most affectionate, ready 
servitor, J. H. 

Westminster, i August 1635. 



20 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

IX 

To Doctor B. 

HAVING in my last sent you something 
touching the state of Judaism up and down 
the world, in this you shall receive what extent 
Christianity hath, which is the second religion in 
succession of time and truth, a religion that makes 
not sense so much subject to reason, as reason 
succumbent to faith. There is no religion so harsh 
and difficult to flesh and blood, in regard of divers 
mysterious positions it consists of, as the Incarna- 
tion, Resurrection, the Trinity, etc., which, as one 
said, are bones to philosophy, but milk to faith. 
There is no religion so purely spiritual, and ab- 
stracted from common natural ideas and sensual 
happiness, as the Christian. No religion that ex- 
cites man more to the love and practice of virtue, 
and hatred of vice, or that prescribes greater re- 
wards for the one, and punishments for the other. 
A religion that in a most miraculous manner did 
expand herself and propagate by simplicity, hum- 
bleness and by a mere passive way of fortitude, 
growing up like the palm-tree under the heavy 
weight of persecution, for never any religion had 
more powerful opposition by various kinds of pun- 
ishments, oppressions and tortures, which may be 
said to have decked her with rubies in her very 
cradle, insomuch that it is granted by her very 



OF JAMES HOWELL 21 

enemies that the Christian, in point of passive 
valour, hath exceeded all other nations upon earth. 
And it is a thing of wonderment how at her very- 
first growth she flew over the heads of so many 
interjacent vast regions into this remote isle so 
soon, that her rays should shine upon the crown 
of a British king first of any, I mean King Lu- 
cius, the true proto-Christian king in the days of 
Eleutherius, at which time she received her pro- 
pagation. But for her plantation she had it long 
before by some of the apostles themselves. Now, 
as Christian religion hath the purest, and most 
abstracted, the hardest and highest spiritual no- 
tions, so it hath been most subject to differences 
of opinions and distractions of conscience. The 
purer the wheat is the more subject it is to tares, 
and the most precious gems to flaws. The first 
bone that the devil flung was into the Eastern 
Churches, then betwixt the Greek and the Roman, 
but it was rather for jurisdiction and power than for 
the fundamentals of faith, and lately betwixt Rome 
and the North-west Churches. Now the extent of 
the Eastern Church is larger far than that of the 
Roman (excluding America), which makes some 
accuse her as well of uncharitableness as of arro- 
gance, that she should positively damn so many 
millions of Christian souls who have the same 
common symbol of faith with her because they 
are not within the close of her fold. 

Of those Eastern and South-east Churches there 
are no less than eleven sects, whereof the three 



22 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

principalest are the Grecian, the Jacobite, and the 
Nestorian, with whom the rest have some depend- 
ence or conformity, and they acknowledge canon- 
ical obedience either to the Patriarchs of Constan- 
tinople, of Alexandria, of Jerusalem or Antioch. 
They concur with the Western Reformed Churches 
in divers positions against Rome, as in denial of 
purgatory ; in rejecting extreme unction and cele- 
brating the sacrament under both kinds ; in ad- 
mitting their clergy to marry ; in abhorring the 
use of massive statues and celebrating their liturgy 
in the vulgar language. Among these the Russian 
and the Abyssinian emperors are the greatest, but 
the latter is a Jew also from the girdle downward, 
for he is both circumcised and christened, having 
received the one from Solomon and the other from 
the apostle Saint Thomas. They observe other 
rites of the Levitical law. They have the cross in 
that esteem that they imprint the sign of it upon 
some part of the child's body when he is baptised. 
That day they take the holy sacrament they spit 
not till after sunset, and the emperor in his pro- 
gresses, as soon as he comes to the sight of a 
church, alights off his camel and foots it all along 
till he loseth the sight of it. 

Now touching that proportion of ground that 
the Christians have on the habitable earth (which 
is the main of our task), I find that all Europe, 
with her adjacent isles, is peopled with Christians, 
except that ruthful country of Lapland where 
idolaters yet inhabit. Towards the east also that 



OF JAMES HOWELL 23 

region which lieth betwixt Tanais and Boristhenes, 
the ancient country of the Goths, is possessed by 
Mahommedan Tartars, but in those territories 
which the Turk hath betwixt the Danube and the 
sea, and betwixt Ragusa and Buda, Christians are 
intermixed with Mahommedans, yet in this co- 
habitation Christians are computed to make two 
third parts at least, for here and elsewhere, all the 
while they pay the Turks the quarter of their 
increase, and a sultany for every poll, and speak 
nothing in derogation of the Alcoran, they are 
permitted to enjoy both their religion and lives 
securely. In Constantinople herself, under the 
Grand Signor's nose, they have twenty churches. 
In Salonika (or Thessalonica) thirty. There are 
1 50 churches under the Metropolitan of Philippi, 
as many under him at Athens, and he of Corinth 
hath about a hundred suffragan bishops under 
him. 

But in Africa (a thing which cannot be too 
much lamented) that huge extent of land which 
Christianity possessed of old betwixt the Mediter- 
ranean Sea and the mountain Atlas, yea, as far as 
Egypt, with the large region of Nubia, the Turks 
have overmastered. We read of 200 bishops 
met in synods in those parts, and in that province 
where old Carthage stood there were 164 bishops 
under one metropolitan. But Mahommedanism 
hath now overspread all thereabout, only the 
King of Spain hath a few maritime towns under 
Christian subjection, as Septa, Tangier, Oran and 



24 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

others. But through all the huge continent of 
Africa, which is estimated to be thrice bigger than 
Europe, there is not one region entirely Christian 
but Abyssinia or Ethiopia. Besides there is in 
Egypt a considerable number of them yet sojourn- 
ing. Now Abyssinia, according to the itineraries 
of the observingest travellers in those parts, is 
thought to be in respective magnitude as big as 
Germany, Spain, France and Italy conjunctly, an 
estimate which comes nearer truth than that which 
some make by stretching it from one tropic to 
the other, viz., from the Red Sea to the Western 
Ocean. There are also divers isles upon the coast 
of Africa that are colonised with Christians, as 
the Madeira, the Canaries, Cape Verde, and St 
Thomas. But on the east side there is none but 
Socotra. 

In Asia there is the Empire of Russia that 
is purely Christian, and the mountain Libanus 
in Syria. In other parts they are mingled with 
Mahommedans, who exceed them one day more 
than another in numbers, especially in those pro- 
vinces (the more is the pity) where the gospel was 
first preached, as Anatolia, Armenia, Syria, Meso- 
potamia, Palestine, Chaldea, Assyria, Persia, the 
north of Arabia and south of India ; in some 
of these parts, I say, especially in the four first, 
Christians are thick mixed with Mahommedans, 
as also in East India since the Portuguese discov- 
ery of the passage by the Cape of Good Hope, 
Christians by God's goodness have multiplied in 



OF JAMES HOWELL 25 

considerable numbers, as likewise in Goa, since 
it was made an archbishopric, and the court of a 
Viceroy. They speak also of a Christian Church 
in Quinsay in China, the greatest of all earthly 
cities ; but in the islands thereabouts called the 
Philippinos, which they say are above iioo in 
number, in thirty whereof the Spaniard hath taken 
firm footing, Christianity hath made a good pro- 
gress, as also in Japan. In the northeast part of 
Asia, some 400 years since, Christianity had taken 
deep root under the King of Tenduc, but he was 
utterly overthrown by Chingis, one of his own 
vassals, who came thereby to be the first founder 
of the Tartarian Erhpire. This King of Tenduc 
was the true Prester John, not the Ethiopian 
King of the Abyssinians, as Scaliger would have 
it, whose opinion is as far distant from truth in 
this point as the southernest part of Africa from 
the northeast part of Asia, or as a Jacobite is from 
a Nestorian. Thus far did Christianity find enter- 
tainment in the Old World. Touching the New, 
I mean America, which is conjectured to equal 
well near the other three parts in magnitude, the 
Spanish authors and merchants (with whom I have 
conversed) make report of a marvellous growth 
that Christianity hath made in the kingdoms of 
Mexico, Peru, Brazil, and Castilia Deloro, as also 
in the greater islands adjoining, as Hispaniola, 
Cuba, Porto Rico, and others, insomuch that they 
write of one ancient priest who had christened 
himself 700 savages some years after the first dis- 



26 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

covery ; but there are some who, seeming to be 
no friends to Spain, report that they did not baptise 
half so many as they butchered. 

Thus have you, as compendiously as an epistle 
could make it, an account of that extension of 
ground which Christians possess upon earth ; my 
next shall be one of the Mahommedan, wherein 
I could wish I had not occasion to be so large 
as I must be. — So I am, sir, your respectful and 
humble servant, J. H. 

Westminster, 9 August 1635. 

X 

To Doctor B, 

MY two former were of Judaism and Christ- 
ianity. I come now to the Mahommedan, 
the modernest of all religions, and the most mis- 
chievous and destructive to the Church of Christ, 
for this fatal sect hath jus tied her out of divers 
large regions in Africa, in Tartary and other places, 
and attenuated their number in Asia, which they 
do wheresoever they come, having a more politic 
and pernicious way to do it than by fire and fag- 
got, for they having understood well that the dust 
of martyrs were the thrivingest seeds of Christian- 
ity, and observed that there reigns naturally in 
mankind, being composed all of lump, and carry- 
ing the same stamp, a general kind of compassion 
and sympathy, which appears most towards them 



OF JAMES HOWELL 27 

who lay down their lives, and postpone all worldly 
things for the preservation of their consciences 
(and never any died so but he drew followers after 
him), therefore the Turk goes a more cunning way 
to work : he meddles not with life and limb to pre- 
vent the sense of compassion which may arise that 
way ; but he grinds their faces with taxes, and 
makes them incapable of any offices either of au- 
thority, profit or honour, by which means he ren- 
ders them despicable to others, and makes their 
lives irksome to themselves ; yet the Turks have 
a high opinion of Christ, that He was a greater 
prophet than Moses, that He was the Son of a 
Virgin, who conceived by the smell of a rose pre- 
sented to her by Gabriel the angel ; they believed 
He never sinned, nay, in their Alcoran they term 
Him the breath and Word of God ; they punish 
all that blaspheme Him, and no Jew is capable 
to be a Turk but he must be first an Abdula, 
a Christian ; he must eat hog's flesh, and do other 
things for three days, then he is made a Mahom- 
medan, but by abjuring of Christ to be a greater 
prophet than Mahommed. 

It is the Alfange that ushers in the faith of 
Mahommed everywhere, nor can it grow in any 
place unless it be planted and sown with gunpow- 
der intermixed. When planted, there are divers 
ways of policy to preserve it. They have their 
Alcoran in one only language, which is the Arabic, 
the mother tongue of their prophet. It is as bad 
as death for any to raise scruples of the Alcoran. 



28 FAMILIAJR. LETTERS 

Thereupon there is a restraint of the study of 
philosophy and other learning, because the im- 
postors of it may not be discerned. The mufti is 
in as great reverence amongst them as the Pope 
is among the Romanists, for they hold it to be a 
true principle in divinity, that no one thing pre- 
serves and improves religion more than a vener- 
able, high, pious esteem of the chiefest ministers. 
They have no other guide or law both for tempo- 
ral and Church affairs than the Alcoran, which 
they hold to be the rule of civil justice, as well as 
the divine charter of their salvation, so that their 
judges are but expositors of that only. Nor do 
they trouble themselves or puzzle the plaintiff with 
any moth-eaten records or precedents to entangle 
the business, but they immediately determine it, 
according to the fresh circumstances of the action, 
et secundum allegata^ et probata ^ by witnesses. They 
have one extraordinary piece of humanity to be so 
tender of the rational soul as not to put Christian, 
Jew, Greek or any other to his oath, in regard 
that if for some advantage of gain or occasion of 
inconvenience and punishment any should for- 
swear himself, they hold the imposers of the oath 
to be accessory to the damnation of the perjured 
man. By these and divers other reaches of policy 
(beside their arms) not practised elsewhere, they 
conserve that huge bulk of the Ottoman Empire 
which extends without interruption (the Helles- 
pont only between) in one continued piece of earth 
two and thirty hundred miles from Buda in Hun- 



OF JAMES HOWELL 29 

gary to a good way into Persia. By these means 
they keep also their religion from distracting opin- 
ions, from every vulgar fancy, and schisms in their 
church, for there is nowhere fewer than here. The 
difference that is is only with the Persian, and that 
not in fundamentals of faith, but for priority of 
government in matters of religion. This so uni- 
versal conformity in their religion is ascribed as to 
other politic institutions, so specially to the rigor- 
ous inhibition they have of raising scruples and 
disputes of the Alcoran under pain of death, es- 
pecially among the laity and common people, whose 
zeal commonly is stronger than their judgment. 

That part of the world where Mahommed hath 
furthest expanded himself is Asia, which, as I said 
before, exceeds Africa in greatness and much more 
in people. He hath firm footing in Persia, Tartary 
(upon the latter of which the Mussulman empire 
is entailed), in Turcomania itself, and Arabia, four 
mighty kingdoms. The last of these was the nest 
where that cockatrice egg was hatched, which hath 
diffused its poison so far and near through the veins 
of so many regions. All the southerly coasts of 
Asia, from the Arabian Bay to the river Indus, is 
infected therewith. The vast kingdom of Cam- 
bray and Bengal, and about the south part of the 
inhabitants of Malabar have drunk of this poison, 
insomuch that by no wrong computation it may 
well be said that Mahommedanism hath dispersed 
itself over almost one half of the huge conti- 
nent of Asia, besides those multitudes of isles es- 



30 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

pecially seven — Moldavia and Ceylon, the sea- 
coasts of Sumatra, Java, Sunda, the ports of Benda, 
Borneo, with divers other, whereof there are many 
thousands about Asia, who have entertained the 
Alcoran. In Europe the Mahommedans possess 
all the region betwixt Don and . Meper, called of 
old Tanais and Boristhenes, being about the twen- 
tieth part of Europe ; the King of Poland dispen- 
seth with some of them in Lithuania, touching 
Greece, Macedon, Thracia, Bulgaria, Servia, Bos- 
nia, Epirus, the greatest part of Hungary and 
Dalmatia. Although they be wholly under Turks* 
obedience, yet Mahommedans scarce make the 
third part of the inhabitants. In Africa this con- 
tagion is further spread ; it hath intoxicated all the 
shore of Ethiopia, as far as Mozambique, w^hich 
lieth opposite to the midst of Madagascar. It is 
worse with firm land of Africa on the north and 
west parts, for from the Mediterranean Sea to 
the great river Niger, and along the banks of the 
Nile, all Egypt and Barbary, with Lydia and the 
Negro's country, are tainted and tanned with this 
black religion. 

The vast propagation of this unhappy sect may 
be ascribed first to the sword, for the conscience 
commonly is apt to follow the conqueror; then 
to the loose reins it gives to all sensual liberty, 
as to have eight wives and as many concubines as 
one can maintain, with the assurance of venerean 
delights in a far higher degree, to succeed after 
death to the religious observers of it, as the frui- 



OF JAMES HOWELL 31 

tion of the beautiful damsels, with large rolling 
eyes, whose virginity shall renew after every act, 
their youth shall last always with their lust, and 
love shall be satiated with only one, where it shall 
remain inalienable. They concur with the Christian, 
but only in the acknowledgment of one God and 
in His attributes. With the Jew they symbolise in 
many things more, as in circumcision, in refraining 
from swine's flesh, in detestation of images, and 
somewhat in the quality of future happiness, which, 
as was said before, they place in venerean pleasure, 
as the Jew doth in feasting and banquetings, so 
that neither of their laws have punishment enough 
to deter mankind from wickedness and vice ; nor 
do they promise adequate rewards for virtue and 
piety, for in the whole Alcoran and through all 
the writings of Moses there is not a word of an- 
gelical joys and eternity. And herein Christianity 
far excels both these religions, for she placeth fu- 
ture happiness in spiritual, everlasting and uncon- 
ceivable bliss, abstracted from the fading and faint 
grossness of sense. The Jew and Turk also agree 
in their opinion of women, whom they hold to be 
of an inferior creation to man, which makes the 
one to exclude them from the mosques and the 
other from his synagogues. 

Thus far have I rambled through the vast 
Ottoman Empire and taken a cursory survey of 
Mahommed's religion. In my next I shall take the 
best view I can of pagans and idolaters, with those 
who go for atheists ; and in this particular, this 



32 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

earth may be said to be worse than hell itself, and 
the kingdom of the devil, in regard there are no 
atheists there, for the very damned souls find and 
feel in the midst of their tortures that there is 
a God by His justice and punishment ; nay, the 
prince of darkness himself and all the cacodaemons 
by a historical faith believe there is a God, where- 
unto the poet alludes very divinely : 

Nullus in Inferno est Atheos, ante fuit. 

So I very affectionately kiss your hand, and rest 
your faithful ready servitor, J. H. 

Westminster, 17 August 1635. 

XI 

To Doctor B. 

HAVING in my three former letters washed 
my hands of the Mahommedan and the 
Jew, and attended Christianity up and down the 
earth, I come now to the pagan idolater, or 
heathen, who (the more to be lamented) make the 
greatest part of mankind. Europe herself, though 
the beams of the cross have shined upon her above 
these sixteen ages, is not free of them, for they 
possess to this day Lappia, Corelia, Biarmia, 
Scrifinnia, and the north parts of Finmark. There 
are also some shreds of them to be found in divers 
places of Lithuania and Somogitia, which make 
a region nine hundred miles in compass. 



OF JAMES HOWELL 33 

But in Africa their number is incredible, for 
from Cape Blanco, the most westerly p^rt of 
Africa, all southward to the Cape of Good Hope, 
and thence turning by the back of Africa to the 
Cape of Mozambique, all these coasts being about 
the one half of the circumference of Africa, is 
peopled by idolaters, though in some places inter- 
mixed with Mahommedans and Christians, as in 
the kingdom of Congo and Angola. But if we sur- 
vey the inland territories of Africa between the 
river of Nile and the west sea of Ethiopia, even 
all that country from about the north parallel of 
ten degrees to the south parallel of six degrees, 
all is held by idolaters; besides, the kingdom of 
Borneo and a great part of Nubia and Lybia con- 
tinue still in their old paganism. So that by this 
account, above one half of that immense continent 
of Africa is peopled by idolaters. But in Asia, 
which is far more spacious and more populous than 
Africa, pagans, idolaters and Gentiles swarm in 
great numbers, for from the river Petchora eastward 
to the ocean, and thence southward to the Cape of 
Cincapura,and from that point returning westward 
by the south coast to the outlets of the river 
Indus, all that maritime tract which makes a good 
deal more than half the circumference of Asia is 
inhabited by idolaters, so are the inland parts. 
There are two mighty mountains that traverse all 
Asia, Taurus and Imaus. The first runs from the 
west to east, the other from north to south, and so 
quarter and cut that huge mass of earth into equal 



34 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

parts. This side those mountains most of the 
people are Mahommedans, but the other side they 
are all idolaters. And as on the firm continent 
paganism thus reigns, so in many thousand islands 
that lie squandered in the vast ocean on the east 
and southeast of Asia idolatry overspreads all, 
except in some few islands that are possessed by 
Spaniards and Arabs. 

Lastly, if one take a survey of America (as 
none hath done yet exactly), which is estimated 
to be as big as all the old earth, idolaters there 
possess four parts of five. 'T is true, some years 
after the first navigation thither they were con- 
verted daily in great multitudes, but afterwards 
observing the licentious lives of Christians, their 
greediness for gold, and their cruelty, they came 
not in so fast, which made an Indian answer a Span- 
ish friar who was discoursing with him of the joys 
of heaven, and how all Spaniards went thither after 
this life: Then said the pagan, "I do not desire 
to go thither if Spaniards be there. I had rather 
go to hell to be free of their company." America 
differs from the rest of the earth in this, that she 
hath neither Jew nor Mahommedan in her, but 
Christians and Gentiles only. There are, besides 
all those religions and people before mentioned, 
an irregular, confused nation in Europe called the 
Mordites, which occupy the middle confines be- 
twixt the Tartars and the Russians, that are 
mingled in rites of religion with all those that 
have been forespoken, for from the privy mem- 



OF JAMES HOWELL 35 

bers upward they are Christian, in regard they 
admit of baptism, from the navel downward they 
are Mahommedans or Jews, for they are circum- 
cised ; and besides, they are given to the adoration 
of heathenish idols. In Asia there are the Cardi, 
which inhabit the mountainous country about 
Mosul, between Armenia and Mesopotamia and 
the Druses, in Syria, who are demi-Mahommedans 
and Christians. 

Now, concerning pagans and heathenish idol- 
aters, whereof there are innumerable sorts up 
and down the surface of the earth, in my opinion 
those are the excusablest kind who adore the sun 
and moon with the host of heaven, and in Ireland 
the cairns of the mountains, with some of the 
Scotch isles, use a fashion of adoring the new 
moon to this very day, praying she would leave 
them in as good health as she found them. This 
is not so gross an idolatry as that of other heathens, 
for the adoration of those glorious celestial bodies 
is more excusable than that of garlic and onions 
with the Egyptian, who, some think (with the 
Sicyonian) was the ancientest idolater upon earth, 
which he makes thrice older than we do ; for 
Diodorus Siculus reports that the Egyptians had 
a religion and kings eighteen thousand years since, 
yet for matter of philosophy and science, he had 
it from the Chaldean, he from the Gymnosophists 
and Brahmans of India, which country, as she is 
the next neighbour to the rising sun, in reference 
to this side of the hemisphere, so the beams of 



26 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

learning did first enlighten her. Egypt was the 
nurse of that famous Hermes Trismeglstus, who 
having no other scale but that of natural reason, 
mounted very high towards heaven, for he hath 
very many divine sayings, whereof I think it not 
impertinent to insert here a few: First he saith, 
" That all human sins are venial with the gods. 
Impiety excepted." 2, " That goodness belongs 
to the gods, piety to men, revenge and wickedness 
to the devils." 3. "That the Word is 'lucens 
Dei filius,' the bright Son of God," etc. 

From Egypt theoretical knowledge came down 
the Nile and landed at some of the Greek islands, 
where betwixt the 33d, 34th, and the 35th cen- 
tury of years after the Creation, there flourished 
all those renowned philosophers that sway now in 
our schools. Plato flew highest in divine notions, 
for some call him another Moses speaking Athe- 
nian. In one of his letters to a friend of his he 
writes thus : " When I seriously salute thee, I be- 
gin my letter with one God ; when otherwise, with 
many." His scholar Aristotle commended him- 
self at his death to the " Being of beings," and 
Socrates may be said to be a martyr for the First 
Person of the Trinity. These great secretaries of 
Nature by studying the vast volume of the world 
came by main strength of reason to the knowledge 
of one Deity or " primus motor," and of His at- 
tributes ; they found by undeniable consequences 
that He was infinite, eternal, ubiquitary, omnipo- 
tent, and not capable of a definition ; which made 



OF JAMES HOWELL 37 

the philosopher, being commanded by his king 
to define God, to ask the respite of a day to med- 
itate thereon, then two, then four. At last he in- 
geniously confessed that the more he thought to 
dive into this mystery, the more he was engulfed 
in the speculation of it : for the quiddity and es- 
sence of the incomprehensible Creator cannot 
imprint any formal conception upon the finite 
intellect of the creature. To this I might refer 
the altar which St Paul found among the Greeks, 
with this inscription : rw ayv(x)a-Tco Oeco, to the 
unknown God. 

From the Greek isles philosophy came to Italy ; 
thence to this western world among the Druids, 
whereof those of this isle were most celebrated, 
for we read that the Gauls (now the French) came 
to Brittany in great numbers to be instructed by 
them. The Romans were mighty great zealots in 
their idolatry, and their best authors affirm that 
they extended their monarchy so far and near, by 
a particular reverence they had of their gods (which 
the Spaniard seems now to imitate), though those 
gods of theirs were made of men, and of good fel- 
lows at first ; besides, in the course of their con- 
quest, they adopted any strange gods to the so- 
ciety of theirs, and brought them solemnly to Rome, 
and the reason as one saith was, that they believed 
the more gods they had the safer they were, a few 
being not sufficient to conserve and protect so 
great an empire. The Roman Gentiles had their 
altars and sacrifices, their arch-flamins and vestal 



38 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

nuns. And it seems the same genius reigns still 
in them, for in the Primitive Church, that which 
the pagans misliked most in Christianity was that 
it had not the face and form of a religion, in re- 
gard it had no oblations, altars and images, which 
may be a good reason why the sacrifices of the mass 
and other ceremonies were first instituted to allure 
the Gentiles to Christianity. But to return a little 
further to our former subject : in the condition 
that mankind stands now, if the globe of the earth 
were divided into thirty parts, it is thought that idol- 
aters (with horror I speak it), having as I said before 
the one half of Asia and Africa, both for the inland 
country and maritime coasts, with four parts of five 
in America, inhabit twenty parts of those regions 
that are already found out upon earth ; besides, 
in the opinion of the knowingest and most in- 
quisitive mathematicians, there is towards the south- 
ern clime as much land yet undiscovered as may 
equal in dimension the late New World, in regard 
as they hold there must be of necessity such a 
portion of earth to balance the centre on all sides, 
and it is more than probable that the inhabitants 
there must be pagans. Of all kind of idolaters 
those are the horridest who adore the devil, whom 
they call Tantara, who appears often unto them, 
specially in a hurricane, though he be not visible 
to others. In some places they worship both God 
and the devil — the one that he may do them 
good : the other that he may do them no hurt ; 
the first they call Tantum, the other Squantum. 



OF JAMES HOWELL 39 

It were presumption beyond that of Lucifer's or 
Adam's for man to censure the justice of the Cre- 
ator in this particular, why He makes daily such 
innumerable vessels of dishonour. It is a wiser 
and safer course for to sit down in a humble ad- 
miration, and cry out, " Oh the profound inscrut- 
able judgments of God ! His ways are past find- 
ing out/' and so to acknowledge with the divine 
philosopher," Quod oculusvespertilionis ad solem, 
idem est omnis intellectus humanus ad Deum," 
What the eye of the bat is to the sun, the same is 
all human understanding to Godwards. 

Now to draw to a conclusion, touching the re- 
spective largeness of Christianity and Mahommed- 
anism upon the earth, I find the first to exceed, 
taking the New World with the Old, considering 
the spacious plantations of the Spaniard in Amer- 
ica, the colonies the English have there in Vir- 
ginia, New England, and Caribee Islands ; with 
those of the French in Canada, and of the Hol- 
lander in East India. Nor do I find that there is 
any region purely Mahommedan without inter- 
mixtures, as Christianity hath many ; which makes 
me to be of a differing opinion to that gentleman, 
who held that Christianity added little to the gen- 
eral religion of mankind. 

Now, touching the latitude of Christian faith in 
reference to the differing professors thereof, as in 
my former I showed that the Eastern Churches 
were more spacious than the Latin or Roman 
(excepting the two Indies), so they who have 



40 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

fallen off from her in the western parts are not so 
far inferior to her in Europe as some would make 
one believe ; which will appear, if we cast them 
in counterbalance. 

Among Roman Catholics there is the Emperor, 
and in him the King of Hungary,- the three kings 
of Spain, France, and Poland ; all Italy, the 
Dukes of Savoy, Bavaria, and Lorraine, the three 
spiritual electors, with some few more. Touching 
them who have renounced all obedience to Rome, 
there are the three Kings of Great Britain, 
Denmark, and Sweden, the Dukes of Saxony, 
Holstein, and Wurtemberg ; the Marquises of 
Brandenburg and Baden, the Landgrave of 
Hesse, most of the Hanseatic Towns, which are 
eighty-eight in number, some whereof are equal 
to republics, the (almost) seven provinces the 
Hollander hath ; the five cantons of Swiss and 
Geneva ; they of France, who are reputed the fifth 
part of the kingdom ; the Prince of Transylvania ; 
they of Hungary, and of the large kingdom of 
Bohemia, of the marquisates of Lusatia, Moravia, 
and the dukedom of Silesia ; as also they of the 
huge kingdom of Poland, wherein Protestants 
are diffused through all quarters in great numbers, 
having in every province their public churches 
and congregations, orderly severed, and bounded 
with dioceses, whence are sent some of the chief- 
est and most principal men of worth unto their 
general synods. For although there are divers 
sorts of these Polonian Protestants, some embrac- 



OF JAMES HOWELL 41 

ing the Waldensian or the Bohemic, others the 
Augustine, and some the Helvetian Confession ; 
yet they all concur in opposition to the Roman 
Church ; as also they of the Anglican, Scotican, 
Gallic, Argentine, Saxonic, Wurtembergic, Pala- 
tine, and Belgiac confessions. They also harmoni- 
ously symbolise in the principal Articles of Faith, 
and which mainly concern eternal salvation ; as 
in the infalHble verity and full sufficiency of the 
Scriptures, Divine Essence, and unity of the Ever- 
lasting Godhead, the sacred Trinity of the three 
glorious Persons, the blessed Incarnation of Christ, 
the Omnipotent Providence of God, the absolute 
supreme Head of the Church, Christ Himself, 
justification by faith through His merits, and 
touching the nature of lively faith, repentance, 
regeneration, and sanctification, the difference be- 
tween the law and the gospel, touching free-will, 
sin and good works ; the Sacraments, their num- 
ber, use and efficacy, the marks of the Church, 
the Resurrection and state of souls deceased. It 
may seem a rambling wild speech at first view, of 
one who said, that to make one a complete 
Christian, he must have the works of a Papist, the 
words of a Puritan, and the faith of a Protestant, 
yet this wish if well expounded may bear a good 
sense, which were unfitting for me to give, you 
being better able to put a gloss upon it yourself. 

Thus, learned sir, have I exercised my pen, 
according to my small proportion of knowledge, 
and conversation with books, men and maps, to 



42 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

obey your desire, though in comparison of your 
spacious literature I have held all this while but 
a candle to the sun, yet by the light of this small 
candle you may see how ready I am to show my- 
self your very humble and affectionate servitor, 

J. H. 
Westminster, 25 August 1635. 

XII 

ro Mr r. W, 

1AM heartily glad you have prevailed so far 
with my lady your mother as to have leave to 
travel a while, and now that you are bound for 
France and Italy let me give you this caution to 
take heed of a speedy friend in the first, and of 
a slow enemy in the second. The courtesies of an 
Italian, if you suspect him jealous of you, are 
dangerous, and so are his compliments ; he will 
tell you that he kisseth your hand a thousand 
times over, when he wisheth them both cut oflF. 

The French are a free and debonnaire, accost- 
able people, both men and women. Among the 
one, at first entrance one may have acquaint- 
ance, and at first acquaintance one may have en- 
trance. For the other, whereas the old rule was, 
that there could be no true friendship without 
commessation of a bushel of salt, one may have 
enough there before he eat a spoonful with them. 
I like that friendship which by soft gentle pauses 



OF JAMES HOWELL 43 

steals upon the affection, and grows mellow with 
time, by reciprocal offices and trials of love ; that 
friendship is like to last long, and never to shrink 
in the wetting. 

So hoping to enjoy you before you go, and to 
give you a friendly joy, I rest, your most affec- 
tionate servitor, J. H. 

Westminster, 28 February 1634. 

XIII 

To Sir Tho. Hawk^ Knight 

1WAS invited yesternight to a solemn supper 
by B. J., where you were deeply remembered. 
There was good company, excellent cheer, choice 
wines and jovial welcome. One thing intervened 
which almost spoiled the relish of the rest, that 
B. began to engross all the discourse, to vapour 
extremely of himself, and by vilifying others to 
magnify his own muse. T. Ca. buzzed me in the 
ear, that though Ben had barrelled up a great deal 
of knowledge, yet it seems he had not read the 
" Ethics," which, among other precepts of moral- 
ity forbid self-commendation, declaring it to be an 
ill-favoured solecism in good manners. It made 
me think upon the lady (not very young) who, 
having a good while given her guests neat enter- 
tainment, a capon being brought upon the table, 
instead of a spoon she took a mouthful of claret 
and spouted it into the poop of the hollow bird. 



44 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

Such an accident happened in this entertainment, 

you know. " Propria laus sordet in ore " 

(Be a man's breath ever so sweet, yet it makes 
one's praises stink if he makes his own mouth the 
conduit pipe of it). But for my part I am content 
to dispense with the Roman infirmity of B. now 
that time hath snowed upon his pericranium. 
You know Ovid and (your) Horace were subject 
to this humour, the first bursting out into 

Jam que opus exegi quod nee Jo vis ira, nee ignis, etc. 
The other into 

Exegi monumentum aere perennius, etc. 

As also Cicero, while he forced himself into this 
hexameter 

O fortunatam natam, me consule Romam ! 

There is another reason that excuseth B., which 
is, that if one be allowed to love the natural issue 
of his body, why not that of the brain, which is of 
a spiritual and more noble extraction ? I preserve 
your manuscripts safe for you till you return to 
London. What news the times afford this bearer 
will impart unto you. — So I am, sir, your very 
humble and most faithful servitor, 

J. H. 
Westminster, 5 April 1636. 



OF JAMES HOWELL 45 

XIV 

To my cousin, Mr J, P., af Gravesend 

Cousin, 

GOD send you a good passage to Holland, 
and the world to your mind when you are 
there. Now that you intend to trail a pike and 
make profession of arms let me give you this 
caveat that nothing must be more precious to you 
than your reputation. As I know you have a spirit 
not to receive wrong, so you must be careful not 
to offer any, for the one is as base as the other. 
Your pulse will be quickly felt, and trial made 
what mettle you are made of after your first com- 
ing. If you get but once handsomely off you 
are made ever after, for you will be free from all 
baffles and affronts. He that hath once got the 
fame of an early riser may sleep till noon. There- 
fore be wondrous wary of your first comportments. 
Get once a good name and be very tender of it 
afterwards, for it is like Venice glass, quickly 
cracked, never to be mended. Patched it may be. 
To this purpose take along with you this fable : 
It happened that fire, water and fame went to 
travel together (as you are going now). They con- 
sulted that if they lost one another how they 
might be retrieved and meet again. Fire said, 
" Where you see smoke there you shall find me.*' 
Water said, " Where you see marsh and moorish 



46 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

low grounds there you shall find me." But fame 
said, " Take heed how you lose me, for if you do, 
you will run a great hazard never to meet me 
again. There is no retrieving of me." 

It imports you also to conform yourself to your 
commanders, and so you may more confidently 
demand obedience when you come to command 
yourself, as I doubt not but you may do in a short 
time. The Hoghen Moghen are very exact in 
their polemical government, their pay is sure, 
though small, 4s. a week being too little a hire, as 
one said, to kill men. At your return I hope you 
will give a better account of your doings than he 
who being asked what exploits he had done in the 
Low Countries answered that he had cut off a Span- 
iard's legs. Reply being made that that was no great 
matter, it had been something if he had cut off 
his head; "Oh," said he, "you must consider, his 
head was off before." — Excuse me that I take my 
leave of you so pleasantly, but I know you will 
take anything in good part from him who is so 
much your truly affectionate cousin, 

J. H. 

Westminster, 3 August 1634. 



T 



OF JAMES HOWELL 47 

XV 

To Cap. B. 

Much Endeared Sir, 

HERE is a true saying, that the spectator 
oft-times sees more than the gamester. I find 
that you have a very hazardous game in hand, 
therefore give it up, and do not vie a farthing 
upon it. Though you be already embarked, yet 
there is time enough to strike sail, and make 
again to the port, otherwise, it is no hard mat- 
ter to be a prophet. What will become of you ? 
There be so many ill-favoured quicksands and 
rocks in the way (as I have it from a good hand) 
that one may easily take a prospect of your ship- 
wreck if you go on ; therefore desist as you regard 
your own safety, and the seasonable advice of 
your J. H. 

Westminster, i May 1635. 

XVI 

To Mr Thomas W.y at his Chamber in the 
Temple 

YOU have much straightened that knot of love 
which hath been long tied between us, by 
those choice manuscripts you sent me lately, 
amongst which I find divers rare pieces, but that 



48 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

which afforded me most entertainment in those 
miscellanies was Dr Henry King's Poems, wherein 
I find not only heat and strength, but also an 
exact concinnity and evenness of fancy. They are 
a choice race of brothers, and it seems the same 
genius diffuseth itself also among the sisters. It 
was my hap to be lately where Mrs A. K. was, 
and having a paper of verses in her hand I got it 
from her ; they were an epitaph and an anagram 
of her own composure and writing, which took me 
so far, that the next morning, before I was up, my 
rambling fancy fell upon these lines : 

For the admitting of Mrs Anne King to he the Tenth Muse 

Ladies of Helicon, do not repine ; 
I add one more unto your number nine. 
To make it even, I among you bring 
BacriX-A. No meaner than the daughter of a King. 
Anna Fair Basil-Anna, quickly pass your voice. 
King I know Apollo will approve the choice. 

And gladly her install, for I could name 
Some of less merit goddesses became. 

F. C. soars higher and higher every day in pur- 
suance of his platonic love, but T. Man is out with 
his, you know whom ; he is fallen into that averse- 
ness to her, that he swears he had rather see a 
basilisk than her. This shows that the sweetest 
wines may turn to the tartest vinegar. — No more 
till we meet, yours inviolably, 

J.H. 

Westminster, 3 February 1637. 



OF JAMES HOWELL 49 

XVII 
To the Lord C. 

My Lord, 

THERE are two sayings which are fathered 
upon Secretary Walsingham and Secretary 
Cecil, a pair of the best-weighed statesmen this 
island hath bred ; one was used to say at the Coun- 
cil table, " My lords, stay a little, and we shall 
make an end the sooner ; " the other would oft- 
times speak of himself, " It shall never be said of 
me that I will defer till to-morrow what I can do 
to-day." At first view these sayings seemed to clash 
with one another, and to be diametrically opposite, 
but being rightly understood, they may be very 
well reconciled. Touching the first, it is true that 
haste and choler are enemies to all great actions ; 
for as it is a principle in chemistry that Omnis fes- 
tinatio est a Biabolo, All haste comes from Hell, 
so in the consultations, contrivings, and conduct 
of any business of State, all rashness and precipi- 
tation comes from an ill spirit. There cannot be 
a better pattern for a grave and considerate way of 
deliberation than the ancient course of our High 
Court of Parliament, which, when a law is to be 
made which concerns the welfare of so many thou- 
sands of men, after a mature debate and long dis- 
cussion of the point beforehand, cause the bill to 
be read solemnly three times in the House ere it 



50 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

be transmitted to the Lords, and there also it is so 
many times canvassed, and then presented to the 
Prince. That which must stand for law must be 
long stood upon, because it imposes a universal 
obedience, and is like to be everlasting, according 
to the Ciceronian maxim, " Deliberandum est diu 
quod statuendum est semel." Such a kind of cunc- 
tation, advisedness, and procrastination is allow- 
able also in all Councils of State and War ; for the 
day following may be able commonly to be a mas- 
ter to the day past, such a world of contingencies 
human actions are subject unto. Yet under favour, 
I believe this first saying to be meant of matters 
while they are in agitation and upon the anvil. 
But when they have received form and are resolved 
upon, I believe then nothing is so advantageous 
as speed. And at this, I am of opinion, the second 
saying aims at, for when the weights that use to 
hang to all great businesses are taken away, it is 
good then to put wings unto them, and to take 
the ball before the bound, for expedition is the life 
of action, otherwise time may show his bald occi- 
put and shake his posteriors at them in derision. 
Among other nations the Spaniard is observed to 
have much phlegm, and to be most dilatory in his 
proceedings ; yet they who have pried narrowly 
into the sequel and success of his actions, do find 
that this gravity, reservedness, and tergiversation 
of his have turned rather to his prejudice than 
advantage, take one time with another. The two 
last matrimonial treaties we had with him contin- 



OF JAMES HOWELL 51 

ued long, the first betwixt Ferdinand and Henry 
the Seventh for Catherine of Arragon seven years ; 
that betwixt King James and the now Philip the 
Fourth for Mary of Austria lasted eleven years 
(and seven and eleven is eighteen). The first took 
effect for Prince Arthur, the latter miscarried for 
Prince Charles, and the Spaniard may thank him- 
self and his own slow pace for it ; for had he 
mended his pace to perfect the work, I believe his 
monarchy had not received so many ill-favoured 
shocks since. The late revolt of Portugal was fore- 
seen, and might have been prevented if the Span- 
iard had not been too slow in his purpose to have 
sent the Duke of Braganza out of the way upon 
some employment as was projected. 

Now will I reconcile the former sayings of those 
two renowned secretaries with the gallant compari- 
son of Charles the Emperor (and he was of a more 
temperate mould than a Spaniard, being a Flem- 
ing born) : He was used to say, that while any 
great business of State was yet in consultation, we 
should observe the motion of Saturn, which is 
plumbeous, long and heavy ; but when it is once 
absolutely resolved upon, then we should observe 
the motion of Mercury, the nimblest of ^ ,. 
all the planets, " Ubi deslnit Saturnus, cum strepi- 
ibi incipiat Mercurius." Whereunto I *^?^V ^^ ^^'""^ 
will add that we should imitate the mul- 
berry, who of all trees casts out her buds latest, for 
she doth it not till all the cold weather be passed, 
and then she is sure they cannot be nipped, but 



52 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

then she shoots them all out in one night; so 
though she be one way the slowest, she is another 
way the nimblest of trees. 

Thus have I obeyed your lordship's command 
in expounding the sense of these two sayings ac- 
cording to my mean apprehension ; but this expo- 
sition relates only to public affairs and political 
negotiations, wherein your lordship is so excel- 
lently versed. I shall most willingly conform to 
any other injunctions of your lordship's, and es- 
teem them always as favours, while I am 

J.H. 

Westminster, 5 September 1633. 

XVIII 

Tb Sir y. Brown, Knight 

ONE would think that the utter falling off of 
Catalonia and Portugal in so short a com- 
pass of time should much lessen the Spaniard, the 
people of both these kingdoms being from subjects 
become enemies against him, and in actual hostil- 
ity. Without doubt it hath done so, yet not so 
much as the world imagines. It is true, in point 
of regal power, and divers brave subordinate com- 
mands for his servants, he is a great deal lessened 
thereby ; but though he be less powerful, he is 
not a penny poorer thereby, for there comes not 
a farthing less every year into his exchequer, in re- 
gard that those countries were rather a charge than 



OF JAMES HOWELL 53 

benefit unto him, all their revenue being drunk up 
in pensions and payments of officers and garrisons. 
For if the King of Spain had lost all except the 
West Indies, and all Spain except Castile herself, 
it would little diminish his treasury. Touching 
Catalonia and Portugal, especially the latter, it is 
true they were mighty members of the Castilian 
monarchy, but I believe they will sooner want 
Castile than Castile them, because she filled them 
with treasure. Now that Barcelona and Lisbon 
hath shaken hands with Seville, I do not think 
that either of them hath the tithe of that treasure 
they had before, in regard the one was the scale 
whereby the King of Spain sent his money to 
Italy, the other because all her East Indian com- 
modities were bartered commonly in Andalusia 
and elsewhere for bullion. Catalonia is fed with 
money from France, but for Portugal she hath 
little or none, therefore I do not see how she could 
support a war long to any purpose if Castile w^re 
quiet, unless soldiers would be contented to take 
cloves and peppercorns for pattacoons and pistoles. 
You know money is the sinew and soul of wan 
This makes me think on that blunt answer which 
Captain Talbot returned Henry the Eighth from 
Calais, who having received special command from 
the King to erect a new fort at the water-gate, and 
to see the town well fortified, sent him word that 
he could neither fortify nor fiftify without money. 
There is no news at all stirring here now, and I am 
of the Italian's mind that said, Nulla nuova, 



54 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

buona nuova" (No news, good news). But it 
were great news to see you here, whence you have 
been an alien so long to your most aflFectionate 
friend, J. H. 

Holborn, 3 June 1640. 

XIX 

To Captain C, Price 

Cousin, 

YOU have put me upon such an odd intricate 
piece of business that I think there was never 
the like of it. I am more puzzled and entangled 
with it than oft-times I used to be with my band- 
strings when I go hastily to bed, and want such 
a fair female hand as you have to untie them. I 
must impute all this to the peevish humour of 
the people I deal withal. I find it true now that 
one of the greatest tortures that can be in the 
negotiation of the world is to have to do with per- 
verse, irrational, half-witted men, and to be worded 
to death with nonsense. Besides, as much brain 
as they have is as full of scruples as a burr is of 
prickles, which is a quality incident to all those 
that have their heads lightly ballasted, for they are 
like buoys in a barred port waving perpetually up 
and down. The father is scrupulous of the son, 
the son of the sisters, and all three of me, to whose 
award they referred the business three several 
times. It is as hard a task to reconcile the fanes 



OF JAMES HOWELL 55 

of St Sepulchre's steeple which never look all four 
upon one point of the heavens as to reduce them 
to any conformity of reason. I never remember to 
have met with father and children, or children 
among themselves, of a more differing genius and 
contrariety of humours, insomuch that there 
cannot be a more pregnant instance to prove that 
human souls come not ex traduce and by seminal 
production from the parents. For my part I in- 
tend to spend my breath no longer upon them, 
but to wash my hands quit of the business, and so 
I would wish you to do, unless you love to walk 
in a labyrinth of briers. So expecting with impa- 
tience your return to London, I rest, your most 
faithful servitor. J. H. 

Westminster, 27 April 1632. 

XX 

T(9 my Cousiriy Mr y. P., at Lincoln's Inn 

Cousin, 

THE last week you sent me word that you 
were so cramped with business that you 
could not put pen to paper. If you write not this 
week, I shall fear that you are not only cramped 
but crippled. At least I shall think you are cramped 
in your affection rather than your fingers, and that 
you have forgotten how once it was my good for- 
tune to preserve you from drowning when the 
cramp took you in St John's Pool at Oxford. The 



56 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

cramp, as I take it, is a sudden convulsion of the 
nerves. For my part the ligaments and sinews of 
my love to you have been so strong that they were 
never yet subject to such spasmodical shrinkings 
and convulsions. Now, letters are the very nerves 
and arteries of friendship ; nay, they are the vital 
spirits and elixir of love which, in case of distance 
and long absence, would be in hazard to languish, 
and quite smoulder away without them. Amongst 
the Italians and Spaniards it is held one of the 
greatest solecisms that can be in good manners not 
to answer a letter with like civility. By this they 
use to distinguish a gentleman from a clown. Be- 
sides, they hold it one of the most virtuous ways 
to employ time. I am the more covetous of a 
punctual correspondence with you in this point be- 
cause I commonly gain by your letters. Your style 
is so polite, your expressions so gallant, and your 
lines interspersed with such dainty flowers of 
poetry and philosophy. I understand there is a 
very able doctor that reads the anatomy lecture 
this term. If Ployden will dispense with you, you 
cannot spend your hours better than to hear him. 
So I end for this time, being cramped for want 
of more matter, and rest, your most affectionate, 
loving cousin, J. H. 

Westminster, 3 7«/y 1 63 1. 



OF JAMES HOWELL 57 

XXI 

To my nephew^ y. P., at St JoAn's, in Oxford 

Nephew, 

I HAD from you lately two letters. The last 
was well freighted with very good stuff, but the 
other, to deal plainly with you, was not so. There 
was as much difference between them as betwixt 
a Scots pedlar's pack in Poland and the magazine 
of an English merchant in Naples, the one being 
usually full of taffety, silks and satins, the other 
of calicoes, thread, ribbands, and such Poldavy 
ware. I perceive you have good commodities to 
vent, if you take the pains. Your trifles and bag- 
atelles are ill bestowed upon me, therefore hereafter 
I pray let me have of your best sort of wares. I 
am glad to find that you have stored up so much 
already ; you are in the best mart in the world 
to improve them, which I hope you daily do, and 
I doubt not when the time of your apprenticeship 
there is expired but you will find a good market to 
expose them for your own and the public benefit 
abroad. I have sent you the philosophy books 
you wrote to me for ; anything that you want of 
this kind for the advancement of your studies, do 
but write, and I shall furnish you. When I was 
a student as you are, my practice was to borrow 
rather than buy some sort of books, and to be 
always punctual in restoring them upon the 



58 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

day assigned, and in the interim to swallow of 
them as much as made for my turn ; this obliged 
me to read them through with more haste to 
keep my word, whereas I had not been so careful 
to peruse them, had thqy been my own books, 
which were always ready at my disposal. I thank 
you heartily for your last letter, in regard I found 
it smelt of the lamp; I pray let your next do so, 
and the oil and labour shall not be lost which you 
expend upon your assured loving uncle, J. H. 
Westminster, i August 1633. 

XXII 
To Tho. Haw 

I THANK you a thousand times for the choice 
stanzas you pleased to send me lately. I find 
that you were thoroughly heated, that you were 
inspired with a true enthusiasm when you com- 
posed them. And whereas others use to flutter in 
the lower region, your muse soars up to the upper, 
and transcending that too, takes her flight among 
the celestial bodies to find a fancy. Your desires 
I should do something upon the same subject, I 
have obeyed, though, I fear, not satisfied in the 
following numbers : 

I . Could I but catch those beamy rays. 
Which Phoebus at high noon displays, 
I'd set them on a loom, and frame 
A scarf for Delia of the same. 



OF JAMES HOWELL 59 

2. Could I that wondrous black come near. 
Which Cynthia, when eclipsed, doth wear. 

Of a new fashion I would trace 
A mask thereof for Delia's face. 

3. Could I but reach that green and blue. 
Which Iris decks in various hue. 

From her moist bow I M drag them down. 
And make my Delia a summer gown. 

4. Could I those whitely stars go nigh. 
Which make the Milky Way in sky, 

I 'd poach them, and at moonshine dress 
To make my Delia a curious mess. 

5. Thus would I diet, thus attire. 
My Delia queen of hearts and fire. 
She should have everything divine 
That would befit a seraphin. 

And 'cause ungirt unblessed we find. 
One of the zones her waist should bind. 

They are of the same cadence as yours, and air- 
able. So I am your humble servitor, J. H. 

Westminster, 5 September 1633. 



XXIII 

To the R. H. the Lady Eliz. Digbye 

IT is no improper comparison that a thankful 
heart is like a box of precious ointment, which 
keeps the smell long after the thing is spent. 
Madam (without vanity be it spoken), such is my 
heart to you, and such are your favours to me, 



6o FAMILIAR LETTERS 

the strong aromatic odour they carried with them 
diffused itself through all the veins of my heart, 
especially through the left ventricle, where the 
most illustrious blood lies ; so that the perfume 
of them remains still fresh within me, and is like 
to do, while the triangle of flesh dilates and shuts 
itself within my breast ; nor doth this perfume 
stay there, but as all smells naturally tend up- 
wards, it hath ascended to my brain and sweet- 
ened all the cells thereof, especially the memory, 
which may be said to be a cabinet also to preserve 
courtesies ; for though the heart be the box of 
love, the memory is the box of lastingness ; the 
one may be termed the source whence the motions 
of gratitude flow ; the other the cistern that keeps 
them. 

But your ladyship will say, these are words 
only ; I confess it, it is but a verbal acknowledg- 
ment. But, madam, if I were made happy with 
an opportunity you should quickly find these 
words turned to actions, either to go, to run or 
ride upon your errand. In expectation of such 
a favourable occasion, I rest, madam, your lady- 
ship's most humble and enchained servitor, 

J.H. 

Westminster, 5 August 1640. 



OF JAMES HOWELL 6i 

XXIV 
To Sir J. B. 

Noble Sir, 

THAT old opinion the Jew and Turk have of 
women, that they are of an inferior creation 
to man, and therefore exclude them, the one from 
their synagogues, the other from their mosques, 
is in my judgment not only partial but profane ; 
for the image of the Creator shines as clearly in 
the one as in the other, and I believe there are as 
many female saints in heaven as male, unless you 
could make me adhere to the opinion that women 
must be all masculine before they be capable to be 
made angels of. Add hereunto that there went 
better and more refined stuff to the creation of 
woman than man. It is true, it was a weak part in 
Eve to yield to the seducements of Satan, but it 
was a weaker thing in Adam to suffer himself to 
be tempted by Eve, being the weaker vessel. 

The ancient philosophers had a better opinion of 
that sex, for they ascribed all sciences to the Muses, 
all sweetness and morality to the Graces, and pro- 
phetic inspirations to the Sybils. In my small re- 
volving of authors, I find as high examples of 
virtue in women as in men. I could produce here 
a whole regiment of them, but that a letter is too 
narrow a field to muster them in. I must confess, 
there are also counter-instances of this kind, if 



62 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

Queen Zenobia was such a precise pattern of con- 
tinency, that after the act of conception, she would 
know her husband no more all the time of her 
pregnancy till she had been deliveredy there is 
another example of a Roman empress that when 
she found the vessel freighted would take in all 
passengers. When the barn was full any one might 
thresh in the haggard, but not till then, for fear 
the right father should be discovered by the coun- 
tenance of the child. But what need I go so far 
off to rake the ashes of the dead ? There are living 
examples enough pro and con of both sexes, yet 
woman being (as I said before) the weaker vessel, 
her failings are more venial than those of man, 
though man indeed, being more conversant with 
the world and meeting more opportunities abroad 
(and opportunity is the greatest bawd) of falling 
into infirmities as he follows his worldly negotia- 
tions, may on the other side be judged the more 
excusable. 

But you are far fitter than I to discourse of this 
subject, being better versed in the theory of 
women, having had a most virtuous lady of your 
own before and being now linked to another. I 
wish a thousand benedictions may fall upon this 
your second choice, and that tarn bona sit quam 
bona prima fuit. This option shall be my conclu- 
sion for the present, whereunto I add that 1 am in 
no vulgar degree of affection your most humble 
and faithful servitor, J. H. 

Westminster, 5 August 1632. 



OF JAMES HOWELL 63 

XXV 

To Mr P. W. 

THERE are two things which add much to 
the merit of courtesies, viz., cheerfulness 
and speed, and the contraries of these lessen the 
value of them. That which hangs long betwixt 
the fingers, and is done with difficulty and a sullen 
supercilious look, makes the obligation of the re- 
ceivers nothing so strong or the memory of the 
kindness half so grateful. The best thing the gods 
themselves liked of in the entertainments they 
received of those poor wretches Baucis and Phile- 
mon was open hearty looks. 

Super omnia vultus, 
Accessere boni. 

A clear, unclouded countenance makes a cottage 
appear like a castle in point of hospitality, but a 
beetle-browed sullen face makes a palace as smoky 
as an Irish hut. There is a mode in giving enter- 
tainment and doing any courtesy else which trebly 
binds the receiver to an acknowledgment, and 
makes the remembrance of it far more acceptable. 
I have known two Lord High Treasurers of Eng- 
land of quite contrary humours, one successively 
after the other. The one, though he did the 
suitor's business, yet he went murmuring ; the 
other, though he did it not, was used to dismiss 
the party with some satisfaction. It is true money is 



64 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

welcome, though it be in a dirty clout, but it is 
far more acceptable if it come in a clean handker- 
chief. 

Sir, you may sit in the chair and read lectures 
of morality to all mankind in this point, you have 
such a dexterous, discreet way to handle suitors in 
that troublesome office of yours, wherein, as you 
have already purchased much, I wish you all in- 
crease of honour and happiness. Your humble and 
much obliged servitor, 

J.H. 



XXVI 

To Mr F. Coll, at Naples 

IT is confessed I have offended by my over-long 
silence, and abused our maiden friendship. I 
appear before you now in this white sheet to do 
penance : pray in your next to send me an absolu- 
tion. Absolutions they say are as cheap in that 
town as courtesans, whereof it was said there were 
20,000 on the common list when I was there ; 
at which time I remember one told me a tale of 
a Calabrian who had buggered a goat, and having 
bought an absolution of his confessor, he was 
asked by a friend what it cost him ; he answered, 
I procured it for four pistolets, and for the other 
odd one I think I might have had a dispensation 
to have married the beast. 

I thank you for the exact relation you sent me 



OF JAMES HOWELL 65 

of the fearful eartfiquakes and fires which hap- 
pened lately in that country, and particularly about 
Vesuvius. It seems the huge giant whom the poets 
say was hurled under the vast mountain by the 
gods for thinking to scale heaven, had a mind to 
turn from one side to the other, which he useth to 
do at the revolution of every hundred years, and 
stirring his body by that action, he was taken with 
a fit of the cough, which made the hill shake and 
belch out fire in that hideous manner. But to 
repay you in the like coin, they send us stranger 
news from Lisbon, for they write of a spick and 
span new island that hath peeped up out of the 
Atlantic Sea, near the Terceras, which never ap- 
peared before since the Creation, and it begins to 
be peopled already. Methinks the King of Spain 
needs no more countries, he hath too many already, 
unless they were better united. All your friends 
here are well, and mind you often in town and 
country, as doth your true constant servitor, 

J. H. 
Westminster, 7 April 1629. 

XXVII 

To Mr T. Lucy, in Venice 

YOUR last you sent me was from Genoa, 
where you write that gli mariti ingravidano 
lor moglie cento miglia lontanoy " Husbands get their 
wives with child a hundred miles off." It is a 



66 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

great virtue, I confess, but it is nothing to what 
our East India mariners can do here, because they 
can do so forty times further ; for though their 
wives be at Ratcliffe and they at the Red Sea ; 
though they be at Madagascar, the Mogul's Court, 
or Japan, yet they used to get their wives* bellies 
up here about London, a strange virtue at such 
a huge distance ; but I believe the active part is in 
the wives, and the husbands are merely passive, 
which makes them among other wares to bring 
home with them a sort of precious horns, the pow- 
der whereof, could one get some of it, would be of 
an invaluable virtue. This operation of our Indian 
mariner at such a distance is more admirable, in 
my judgment, than that of the weapon-salve, the 
unguentum armarium, for that can do no good 
unless the surgeon have the instrument and blood, 
but this is done without both, for the husband 
contributes neither of them. 

You are now, I presume, in Venice. There 
also such things are done by proxy; while the 
husband is abroad upon the galleys, there be oth- 
ers that shoot his gulf at home. You are now in 
a place where you may feed all your senses very 
cheap. I allow you the pleasing of your eye, your 
ear, your smell and taste, but take heed of being 
too indulgent of the fifth sense. The poets feign 
that Venus, the goddess of pleasure, and therefore 
called Aphrodite, was engendered of the froth of 
the sea (which makes fish more salacious com- 
monly than flesh) ; it is not improbable that she 



OF JAMES HOWELL 67 

was got and coagulated of that foam which Nep- 
tune useth to disgorge upon those pretty islands 
whereon that city stands. My Lady Miller com- 
mends her kindly unto you, and she desires you 
to send her a complete cupboard of the best crys- 
tal glass Murano can afford by th^ next shipping, 
besides, she entreats you to send her a pot of the 
best mithridate, and so much of treacle. 

All your friends here are well and jovial. T. 
T. drank your health yesternight, and wished you 
could send him a handsome Venetian courtesan 
enclosed in a letter. He would willingly be at the 
charge of the postage, which he thinks would not 
be much for such a light commodity. Farewell, my 
dear Tom, but have a care of your courses, and 
continue to love him who is yours to the altar, 

J.H. 

Westminster, 15 January 1635. 

XXVIII 

To Mr T, Jackson, at Madrid 

THOUGH a great sea severs us now, yet it 
is not all the water of the ocean can drown 
the remembrance of you in me but that it floats 
and flows daily in my brain; I must confess (for 
it is impossible the mind of man should fix itself 
always upon one object) it hath sometimes its 
ebbs in me, but it is to rise up again with greater 
force. At the writing hereof it was flood, it was 



68 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

spring tide, which swelled so high that the thoughts 
of you overwhelmed all others within me ; they 
engrossed all my intellectuals for the time. 

You write to me fearful news touching the 
revolt of the Catalan from Castilia, of the tragical 
murdering of the viceroy, and the burning of his 
house. Those mountaineers are mad lads. I fear 
the sparkles of this fire will fly farther, either to 
Portugal or to Sicily and Italy, all which coun- 
tries, I observed, the Spaniard holds as one would 
do a wolf by the ear, fearing they should run 
away ever and anon from him. 

The news here is that Lambeth House bears 
all the sway at Whitehall, and the lord-deputy 
kings it notably in Ireland. Some that love 
them best could wish them a little more modera- 
tion. 

I pray buy Suarez' works for me of the last 
edition. Mr William Pawly, to whom I desire 
my most hearty commends may be presented, 
will see it safely sent by way of Bilbao. Your 
friends here are all well, as is, thanks be to God, 
your true friend to serve you, 

J.H. 

Holborn, 3 March 1638. 



OF JAMES HOWELL 69 

XXIX 

To Sir Edward Sa,, Knight 

Sir Edward, 

I HAD a shrewd disease hung lately upon me, 
proceeding, as the physicians told me, from 
this long reclused life and close restraint, which had 
much wasted my spirits and brought me low. 
When the crisis was past I began to grow doubt- 
ful that I had but a short time to breathe in this 
elementary world, my fever still increasing, and 
finding my soul weary of this muddy mansion, and 
methought more weary of this prison of flesh than 
this flesh was of this prison of the Fleet. There- 
fore, after some gentle slumbers, and unusual 
dreams about the dawnings of the day, I had a 
lucid interval, and so I fell a-thinking how to put 
my little house in order and to make my last 
will. Hereupon my thoughts ran upon Grunnius 
Sophista's last testament, who having nothing else 
to dispose of but his body, he bequeathed all the 
parts thereof in legacies, as his skin to the tanners, 
his bones to the dicemakers, his guts to the musi- 
cians, his fingers to the scriveners, his tongue to 
his fellow-sophisters (which were the lawyers of 
those times), and so forth. As he thus dissected 
his body, so I thought to divide my mind into 
legacies, having, as you know, little of the outward 
pelf and gifts of fortune to dispose of, for never 



yo FAMILIAR LETTERS 

any was less beholden to that blind baggage. In 
the highest degree of theoretical contemplation I 
made an entire sacrifice of my soul to her Maker 
who by infusing created her, and by creating in- 
fused her to actuate this small bulk of flesh with 
an unshaken confidence of the redemption of both 
in my Saviour, and consequently of the salvation 
of the one and the resurrection of the other. My 
thoughts then reflected upon divers of my noble 
friends, and I fell to proportion unto them what 
legacies I held most proper. I thought to bequeath 
unto my Lord of Cherberry and Sir K. Digby that 
little philosophy and knowledge I have in the 
mathematics ; my historical observations and crit- 
ical researches I made into antiquity, I thought to 
bequeath unto Dr Usher, Lord Primate of Ire- 
land ; " My Observations Abroad," and " Inspec- 
tion into Foreign States " I thought to leave 
to my Lord G. D. ; my poetry, such as it is, to 
Mistress A. K., who, I know, is a great minion 
of the Muses. " School Languages " I thought to 
bequeath unto my dear mother the University of 
Oxford ; my " Spanish " to Sir Lewis Dives and 
Master Endymion Porter, for though they are 
great masters of that language, yet it may stead 
them something when they read " La Picara Jus- 
tina." My " Italian " to the worthy company of 
Turkey and Levantine merchants, from divers of 
whom I have received many noble favours. My 
" French " to my most honoured lady, the Lady 
Cor, and it may help her something to understand 



OF JAMES HOWELL 71 

Rabelais. The little smattering I have in the 
Dutch, British, and my English I did not esteem 
worth the bequeathing. My love I had bequeathed 
to be diffused among all my dear friends, espe- 
cially those that have stuck unto me in this my 
long affliction. My best natural affections betwixt 
the Lord B. of Br., my brother Howell, and my 
three dear sisters, to be transferred by them to my 
cousins their children. This little sackful of bones 
I thought to bequeath to Westminster Abbey, to 
be interred in the cloister within the south side of 
the garden, close to the wall, where I would have 
desired Sir H. F. (my dear friend) to have inlaid 
a small piece of black marble and caused this motto 
to have been insculped upon it, Hucusque peregri- 
nuSy heic domi, or this, which I would have left to 
his choice, Hucusque erraticus, heicj[ixus^ and instead 
of strewing my grave with flowers I would have 
desired him to have grafted thereon some little 
tree of what sort he pleased that might have taken 
root downward to my dust, because I have been 
always naturally affected to woods and groves and 
those kind of vegetables, insomuch that if there 
were any such thing as a Pythagorean metempsy- 
chosis I think my soul would transmigrate into 
some tree when she bids this body farewell. 

By these extravagancies and odd chimeras of 
my brain, you may well perceive that I was not 
well, but distempered, especially in my intellect- 
uals. According to the Spanish proverb, " Siempre 
desvarios con la calentura," Fevers have always 



72 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

their fits of dotage. Among those to whom I had 
bequeathed my dearest love, you were one to 
whom I had intended a large proportion, and that 
love which I would have left you then in legacy, 
I send you now in this letter, for it hath pleased 
God to reprieve me for a longer time to creep 
upon this earth, and to see better days I hope, 
when this black dismal cloud is dispelled ; but 
come foul or fair weather, I shall be as formerly 
your most constant, faithful servitor, J. H. 
Fleet, 26 March 1643. 

XXX 

To the Right Honourable the Lady Wichts 

SINCE I was hurled amongst these walls, I 
had divers fits of melancholy and such turbid 
intervals that use to attend close prisoners, who 
for the most part have no other companions but 
confused troops of wandering cogitations. Now, 
" melancholy is far more fruitful of thoughts than 
any other humour ; " for it is like the mud of 
the Nile, which, when that enigmatical vast river is 
got again to her former bed, engendereth divers 
sorts of new creatures and some kinds of monsters. 
My brain in this Fleet hath been often thus over- 
whelmed, yet I never found it so muddy, nor the 
region of my mind so much clouded, as it was 
lately after notice had of the sad tidings of Master 
Controller's death. The news hereof struck such 



OF JAMES HOWELL 73 

a damp into me, that for some space methought 
the very pulse of my blood and the motions of my 
heart were at a stand ; for I was surprised with 
such a consternation, that I felt no pulsation in the 
one, or palpitations in the other. Well, madam, he 
was a brave, solid, wise man, of a noble free dis- 
position, and so great a controller of his passions, 
he was always at home within himself; yet I much 
fear that the sense of these unhappy times made 
too deep impressions in him. Truly, madam, I 
loved and honoured him in such a perfection, 
that my heart shall wear a broad black ribbon for 
him while I live ; as long as I have a retentive 
faculty to remember anything, his memory shall 
be fresh within me. But the truth is, that if the 
advantageous exchange which he hath made were 
well considered, no friend of his should be sorry; 
for in lieu of a white staff in an earthly court, he 
hath got a sceptre of immortality. He that had 
been ambassador at the Porte to the greatest 
monarch upon earth, where he resided so many 
years an honour to his king and country, is now 
arrived at a far more glorious Porte than that of 
Constantinople ; though (as I intimated before) 
I fear that this boisterous weather hath blown him 
thither before his time. God Almighty give your 
ladyship patience for so great a loss, and comfort in 
your hopeful issue. With this prayer I conclude 
myself, madam, your ladyship's most humble and 
sorrowful servant, J. H. 

From the Fleet, 1 5 April, 



74 



FAMILIAR LETTERS 



XXXI 

To Mr E. S,, Councillor at the Middle Temple 

1HAD yours this morning, and I thank you 
for the news you send me that divers of my 
fellow-sufferers are enlarged out of Lambeth, 
Winchester, London and Ely House, whereunto 
I may answer you as the Cheapside porter did one 
that related court news unto him, how such a one 
was made Lord Treasurer, another Chancellor of 
the Exchequer, another was made an earl, another 
sworn Privy Councillor. "Ay,'* said he, "yet I am 
but a porter still." So I may say, "I am but a 
prisoner still, notwithstanding the releasement of 
so many.*' Mistake me not, as if I repined here- 
by at any one's liberty, for I could heartily wish 
that I were the unic martyr in this kind, that 
I were the figure of one with never a cipher after 
it, as God wot there are too many ; I could wish 
that as I am the least in value, I were the last in 
number. A day may come that a favourable wind 
may blow, that I may launch also out of this Fleet. 
In the meantime, and always after, I am your true 
constant servitor, J. H. 

Fleet, I February 1645. 



OF JAMES HOWELL 75 

XXXII 

To Mr R. B.y at Ipswich 

Gentle Sir, 

1 VALUE at a high rate the sundry respects 
you have been pleased to show me ; for as you 
obliged me before by your visits, so you have 
much endeared yourself unto me since by your 
late letter of the nth current. Believe it, sir, 
the least scruple of your love is not lost (because 
I perceive it proceeds from the pure motions of 
virtue), but returned to you in the same full pro- 
portion. But what you please to ascribe unto me 
in point of merit, I dare not own. You look upon 
me through the wrong end of the perspective, or 
rather through a multiplying glass, which makes 
the object appear far bigger than it is in real dimen- 
sion ; such glasses as anatomists use in the dis- 
section of bodies, which can make a flea look like 
a cow, or a fly as big as a vulture. 

I presume you are constant in your desire to 
travel ; if you intend it at all, you cannot do it in 
a better time, there being little comfort, God wot, 
to breathe English air as matters are carried. I 
shall be glad to stead you in anything that may 
tend to your advantage ; for to tell you truly, I 
take much contentment in this inchoation of friend- 
ship, to improve and perfect which I shall lie sen- 
tinel to apprehend all occasions. 



J 



76 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

If you meet Master R. Brownrigg in the coun- 
try, I pray present my very kind respects unto 
him, for I profess myself to be both his and your 
most affectionate servitor, J. H. 

Fleet, 15 August 1646. 

XXXIII 

To Capt. C. Price y Prisoner at Coventry 

Cousin, 

YOU, whom I held always as my second self 
in affection, are now so in affliction, being in 
the same predicament of suffrance, though not in 
the same prison as L There is nothing sweeteneth 
friendship more than a participation and identity 
of danger and durance. The day may come that 
we may discourse with comfort of these sad times, 
for adversity hath the advantage of prosperity itself 
in this point, that the commemoration of the one 
is oft-times more delightsome than the fruition of 
the other. Moreover, adversity and prosperity are 
like virtue and vice ; the two foremost of both 
which begin with anxieties and pain, but they end 
comically in contentment and joy ; the other two 
quite contrary, they begin with pleasure and end 
in pain ; there *s a difference in the last scene. 

I could wish, if there be no hopes of a speedy 
releasement, you would remove your body hither, 
and rather than moulder away in idleness we would 
devoutly blow the coal, and try if we can exalt 



OF JAMES HOWELL 77 

gold and bring it over the helm in this Fleet ; we 
will transmute metals and give a resurrection to 
mortified vegetables, to which end the green lion 
and the dragon, the demogorgon and Mercury 
himself with all the planets shall attend us, till we 
come to the elixir, the true powder of projection, 
which the vulgar call the philosopher's stone. If 
matters hit right, we may thereby get better returns 
than Cardigan silver mines afford ; but we must 
not melt ourselves away as J. Meredith did, nor 
do as your countryman Morgan did. I know when 
you read these lines, you '11 say I am grown mad, 
and that I have taken opium in lieu of tobacco. 
If I be mad I am but sick of the disease of the 
time, which reigns more among the English than 
the sweating sickness did some sixscore years since 
amongst them, and only them, both at home and 
abroad. 

There 's a strange maggot hath got into their 
brains, which possesseth them with a kind of ver- 
tigo, and it reigns in the pulpit more than any- 
where else, for some of our preachmen are grown 
dog mad, there *s a worm got into their tongues as 
well as their heads. 

Hodge Powel commends him unto you ; he is 
here under hatches as well as I ; howsoever I am 
still, in fair or foul weather, your truly affectionate 
cousin to serve you, J. H. 

Fleet, 3 January 1643. 



78 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

XXXIV 

To the Right Honourable the Lord of Cher berry 

My Lord, 

GOD send you joy of your new habitation, for 
I understand your lordship is removed from 
the King's Street to the Queen's. It may be with 
this enlargement of dwelling, your lordship may 
need a recruit of servants. The bearer hereof 
hath a desire to devote himself to your Lordship's 
service ; and I find that he hath a concurrence of 
such parts that may make him capable of it. He 
is well studied in men and books, versed in busi- 
ness of all sorts, and writes a very fair hand. He 
is well extracted and hath divers good friends that 
are dwellers in the town who will be responsible 
for him. Moreover, besides this letter of mine, 
your Lordship will find that he carrieth one in 
his countenance, for an honest ingenuous look is 
a good letter of recommendation of itself. If your 
Lordship hath not present occasion to employ 
him, he may be about you a while like a spare 
watch, which your Lordship may wind up at 
pleasure. So my aim being to do your Lordship 
service, as much as him a pleasure by this 
recommendation, I rest your Lordship's most 
humble servant, J. H. 

Fleet, 13 July 1646. 



OF JAMES HOWELL 79 

XXXV 

To Mr R. Br. 

YOURS of the fourth current came safely to 
hand, and I acknowledge with much content- 
ment the fair respects you please to show me. 
You may be well assured that the least grain of 
your love to me is not lost but counterbalanced 
with the like in full weight. For although I am 
as frail a piece, and as full of infirmities as another 
man, yet I like my own nature in one thing, that 
I could never endure to be in the arrear to any 
for love. Where my hand came short my heart 
was bountiful, and helped to make an equal com- 
pensation. 

I hope you persist in your purpose for foreign 
travel to study awhile the world abroad. It is the 
way to perfect you, and I have already discovered 
such choice ingredients, and parts of ingenuity in 
you, that will quickly make a complete gentle- 
man. No more now, but that I am seriously yours 
to dispose of, J. H. 

Fleet, 3 July 1646. 



8o FAMILIAR LETTERS 

XXXVI 

To Sir L, D,y in the Tower 

TO help the passing away of your weary hours 
between those disconsolate walls I have 
sent you a king of your own name to bear you 
company, Louis XI 1 1, who, though dead three 
years since, may peradventure afford you some 
entertainment ; and I think that dead men of this 
nature are the fittest companions for such that are 
buried alive as you and I are. I doubt not but 
you, who have a spirit to overcome all things, will 
overcome the sense of this hard condition, that 
you may survive these sad times and see better 
days. I doubt not, as weak as I am, but I shall be 
able to do it myself. In which confidence I style 
myself your most obliged and ever faithful servant, 

J. H. 

Fleet, 15 February 1646. 

My most humble service to Sir J. St. and Sir 
H. V. 

XXXVII 
To Master R. B. 



I 



HAD yours of the second current by Master 
Bloys, which obligeth me to send you double 



OF JAMES HOWELL 8i 

thanks, first for your letter, then for the choice 
hand that brought it me. 

When I had gone through it methought your 
lines were as leaves, or rather so many branches, 
amongst which there sprouted divers sweet blos- 
soms of ingenuity, which I find may quickly come 
to a rare maturity. I confess this clime (as matters 
go) is untoward to improve such buds of virtue. 
But the times may mend now that our King with 
the sun makes his approach unto us more and 
more. Yet I fear we shall not come yet a good 
while to our former serenity, therefore it were not 
amiss, in my judgment, if some foreign air did 
blow upon the aforesaid blossoms to ripen them 
under some other meridian in the interim ; it is 
the opinion of your very respectful friend to dispose 
of, J. H. 

Fleet, 3 August 1645. 

XXXVIII 
To Mr G. C, at Dublin 

THE news of this week has been like the 
waves of that boisterous sea through which 
this letter is to pass over unto you. Divers re- 
ports for peace have swollen high for the time, 
but they suddenly fell low and flat again. Our rela- 
tions here are like a peal of bells in a windy blus- 
tering weather: sometimes the sound is strong on 
this side, sometimes on that side of the steeple. 



82 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

so our relations sound diversely as the air of affec- 
tion carries them, and sometimes in a whole volley 
of news we shall not find one true report. 

There was in a Dunkirk ship taken some months 
ago, hard by Arundel Castle, amongst other things, 
a large picture seized upon and carried to West- 
minster Hall, and put in the Star Chamber to be 
publicly seen. It was the legend of Conanus, a 
British prince in the time of Gratian the Emperor, 
who having married Ursula, the King of Corn walFs 
daughter, were embarked with ii,ooo virgins for 
Brittany, in France, to colonise that part with 
Christians, but being by distress of weather beaten 
upon the Rhine, because they would not yield to 
the lusts of the infidels, after the example of Ur- 
sula, they were all slain. Their bodies were carried 
to Cologne, where there stands to this day a stately 
church built for them. This is the story of that 
picture, yet the common people here take Conanus 
for our king and Ursula for the queen, and the 
bishop which stands hard by to be the Pope, and 
so stare upon it accordingly, notwithstanding that 
the prince there represented hath sandals on his feet 
after the old fashion, that the coronets on their 
heads resemble those of dukes and earls, as also 
that there are rays about them which never use 
to be applied to living persons, with divers other 
incongruities. Yet it cannot be beaten out of the 
belief of thousands here but that it was intended 
to represent our king and queen, which makes me 
conclude with this interjection of wonder. Oh, the 



OF JAMES HOWELL 83 

ignorance of the common people ! Your faithful 
friend to command, J. H. 

Fleet, 12 August 1644 

XXXIX 

To Master End. Por.^ at^ Paris 

I MOST affectionately kiss your hands for the 
account (and candid opinion) you please to give 
of the history I sent Her Majesty of the late K., 
her brother's reign. I return you also a thousand 
thanks for your comfortable advice, that having 
been so long under hatches in this Fleet I should 
fancy myself to be in a long voyage at sea. It 
is true opinion can do much, and indeed she is 
that great lady who rules the world. There is a wise 
saying in that country where you sojourn now, 
that " ce n'est pas la place, mais la pensee qui 
fait la prison," it is not the place but opinion 
that makes the prison ; the conceit is more than 
the condition. You go on to prefer my captivity 
in this Fleet to that of a voyager at sea, in regard 
that he is subject to storms and springing of leaks, 
to pirates and picaroons, with other casualties. 
You write I have other advantages also, to be free 
from plundering and other barbarisms that reign 
now aboard. It is true, I am secured from all 
these ; yet touching the first, I could be content 
to expose myself to all those chances, so that 
this were a floating Fleet, that I might breathe 



84 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

free air, for I have not been suffered to stir over 
the threshold of this house this four years. Where- 
as you say I have a book for my companion ; it 
is true, I converse sometimes with dead men ; and 
what fitter associates can there be for one that is 
buried alive (as I am) than dead men ? And now 
will I adventure to send you a kind of epitaph I 
made of myself this morning as I was lolling abed. 

Here lies entombed a walking thing. 
Whom Fortune (with the States) did fling 
Between these walls. Why ? ask not that. 
That blind whore doth she knows not what. 

It is a strange world you '11 say when men make 
their own epitaphs in their graves, but we that are 
thus buried alive have one advantage above others, 
that we are like to have a double resurrection. I 
am sure of one, but if these times hold I cannot 
ascertain myself of the other, for I may be suf- 
fered to rot here for aught I know, it being the 
hard destiny of some in these times, when they 
are once clapped up, to be so forgotten as if there 
were no such men in the world. 

I humbly thank you for your avisos ; I cannot 
correspond with you in that kind as freely as I 
would. Only in the general I must tell you that 
we are come to such a pass that the posy which a 
young couple did put upon their wedding ring 
may fit us in the general, which was, God knows 
what will become of us. But I trust these bad 
times will be recompensed with better; for my 
part, that which keeps me alive is your motto 



OF JAMES HOWELL 85 

there of the House of Bourbon, and it is but one 
word, FEsperance. — So I pray God preserve you 
and your most faithful humble servitor, 

Fleet, 1 January 164.6. J. H. 

XL 

To Master J. H., at Saint John's College^ in 
Cambridge 

Master Hall, 

YOURS of the thirteenth of this instant came 
safely, though slowly, to hand, for I had it 
not till the twentieth of the same, and the next 
day your essays were brought me. I entertained 
both with much respect for I found therein many 
choice and ripe notions, which I hope proceed 
from a pregnancy rather than precocity of spirit in 
you. 

I perceive you have entered the suburbs of 
Sparta already, and that you are in a fair way to 
get the town itself. I know you have wherewith 
to adorn her. Nay, you may in time gain Athens 
herself, with all the knowledge she was ever 
mistress of, if you go on in your career with 
constancy. I find you have a genius for the most 
solid and severest sort of studies. Therefore 
when you have passed through the briers of logic, 
I could wish you to go strongly on in the fair 
fields of philosophy and the mathematics, which 
are true academical studies, and they will afford 



86 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

rich matter of application for your inventive spirit 
to work upon. By all means understand Aris- 
totle in his own language, for it is the language 
of learning. Touching poetry, history and other 
human studies, they may serve you for recreation, 
but let them not by any means allure your affec- 
tions from the first. I shall delight to hear some- 
times of your proceedings, for I possess a great 
deal of good will unto you, which makes me rest 
your respectful friend to serve you, J. H. 
Fleet, 3 December, 

XLI 
To my Br,, the L, B, of B,, in France 

My Good Lord and Br., 

ALTHOUGH the sense of my own hard 
condition be enough to make me melan- 
choly, yet when I contemplate yours (as I often 
do), and compare your kind of banishment with 
my imprisonment, I find the apprehension of the 
first, wherein so many have a share, adds a double 
weight unto my sufferings, though but single. 
Truly, these thoughts to me are as so many cor- 
rosives to one already in a consumption. The 
world cries you up to be an excellent divine and 
philosopher. Now is the time for you to make 
an advantage of both. Of the first, by calling to 
mind that afflictions are the portion of the best 
theophiles; of the other, by a well-weighed con- 



OF JAMES HOWELL 87 

sideration that crosses and troubles are entailed 
upon mankind as much as any other inheritance. 
In this respect I am no cadet, for you know I 
have had a double, if not a treble share, and may 
be rather called the elder brother; but olo-riov 
KOI iina-Teov, I hope I shall not sink under the 
burden, but that we shall be both reserved for 
better days, especially now that the King (with 
the sun and the spring) makes his approach more 
and more towards us from the north. 

God Almighty (the God of our good old fa- 
ther) still guard you and guide you, that after so 
long a separation we may meet again with com- 
fort to confer notes, and recount matters passed. 
For adverse fortune, among other properties, hath 
this for one, that her present pressures are not so 
irksome as the remembrance of them being passed 
are delightsome. — So I remain your most loving 
brother, J. H. 

Fleet, I May 1645. 

XLII 
To Sir L, Dives y in the Tower 

AMONG divers other properties that attend 
a long captivity, one is, that it purgeth the 
humours, especially it correcteth choler, and attem- 
pers it with phlegm, which you know in Spanish 
is taken for patience. It hath also a chemical kind 
of quality to refine the dross and feculency of a 



88 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

corrupt nature, as fire useth to purify metals, and 
to destroy that terram Adamicam in them, as the 
chemist calls it ; for Demogorgon with his vegeta- 
bles partook of Adam's malediction as well as other 
creatures, which makes some of them so foul and 
imperfect, nature having designed them all for 
gold and silver at first, and it is fire can only rec- 
tify and reduce them towards such a perfection. 
This Fleet hath been such a furnace to me, it hath 
been a kind of Perillus Bull, or rather, to use the 
Paracelsian phrase, I have been here in ventre 
equina^ in the limbec and crucible of affliction. And 
whereas the chemist commonly requires but 150 
days, antequam corvus in columbam vertatuVy before 
the crow turns to a dove, I have been here five 
times so many days and upward. I have been 
here time enough, in conscience, to pass all the 
degrees and effects of fire, as distillation, sublima- 
tion, mortification, calcination, solution, discen- 
sion, dealbation, rubification, and fixation ; for I 
have been fastened to the walls of this prison any 
time these fifty-five months. I have been here 
long enough, if I were matter capable thereof to 
be made the philosopher's stone, to be converted 
from water to powder, which is the whole magis- 
try. I have been, besides, so long upon the anvil 
that methinks I am grown malleable and ham- 
mer-proof, I am so habituated to hardship. But 
indeed you, that are made of choicer mould, are 
fitter to be turned into the elixir than I, who have 
so much dross and corruption in me that it will 



OF JAMES HOWELL 89 

require more pains and much more expense to be 
purged and defecated. God send us both pa- 
tience to bear the brunt of this fiery trial, and 
grace to turn these decoctions into aquae vitae, to 
make sovereign treacle of this viper. The Trojan 
prince was forced to pass over Phlegethon, and 
pay Charon his freight, before he could get into 
the Elysian Fields. You know the moral, that we 
must pass through hell to heaven, and why not as 
well through a prison to Paradise ? Such may the 
Tower prove to you, and the Fleet to me, who 
am your humble and hearty servant, 



From the Fleet, 23 February 1645, 



J. H, 



XLIII 

To the Right Honourable the Lord R. 

My Lord, 

SURE there is some angry planet hath lowered 
long upon the Catholic King; and though 
one of his titles to pagan princes be that he wears 
the sun for his helmet, because it never sets upon 
all his dominions in regard some part of them lie 
on the other side of the hemisphere among the 
antipodes, yet methinks that neither that great 
star, or any of the rest, are now propitious unto 
him. They cast, it seems, more benign fluxes 
upon the fleur-de-lys, which thrives wonderfully, 
but how long these favourable aspects will last I 



90 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

will not presume to judge. This, among divers 
others of late, hath been a fatal year to the said king, 
for westward he hath lost Dunkirk. Dunkirk, 
which was the terror of this part of the world, the 
scourge of the Occidental seas, whose name was 
grown to be a bugbear for so many years, hath 
now changed her master, and thrown away the 
ragged staff. Doubtless a great exploit it was to 
take this town. But whether this be advantage- 
ous to Holland (as I am sure it is not to Eng- 
land) time will show. It is more than probable 
that it may make him careless at sea, and in the 
building and arming of his ships, having now no 
enemy near him. Besides, I believe it cannot 
much benefit Hans to have the French so con- 
tiguous to him. The old saying was, "Ayez le 
Francois pour ton amy, non pas pour ton voisin " 
(Have the Frenchman for thy friend, not for thy 
neighbour). 

Touching England, I believe these distractions 
of ours have been one of the greatest advantages 
that ever could befall France. And they hap- 
pened in the most favourable conjuncture of time 
that might be, else I believe he would never have as 
much as attempted Dunkirk, for England, in true 
reason of state, had reason to prevent nothing 
more in regard no one place could have added 
more to the naval power of France. This will 
make his sails swell bigger, and I fear make him 
claim in time as much regality in these narrow seas 
as England herself. 



OF JAMES HOWELL 91 

In Italy the Spaniard hath also had ill suc- 
cesses at Piombino and Porto Longone. Besides, 
they write that he hath lost " II prete et il medico " 
(The priest and the physician), to wit, the Pope 
and the Duke of Florence (the House of Med- 
ici), who appear rather for the French than for 
him. 

Add to these disasters that he hath lost within 
the revolution of the same year the Prince of 
Spain, his unique son, in the very flower of his 
age, being but seventeen years old. These, with 
the falling off of Catalonia and Portugal, with 
the death of his queen not above forty, are heavy 
losses to the Catholic king, and must needs much 
enfeeble the great bulk of his monarchy, fall- 
ing in so short a compass of time one upon the 
neck of another, and we are not to enter into 
the secret councils of God Almighty for a reason. 
I have read it was the sensuality of the flesh that 
drove the kings out of Rome, the French out of 
Sicily, and brought the Moors into Spain, where 
they kept firm footing above seven hundred years. 
I could tell you how, not long before her death, 
the late Queen of Spain took off^ one of her cha- 
pines and clowted Olivarez about the noddle with 
it because he had accompanied the King to a 
lady of pleasure, telling him that he should know 
she was sister to a King of France as well as wife 
to a King of Spain. For my part, France and 
Spain is all one to me in point of afl^ection. I am 
one of those indiflferent men that would have the 



92 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

scales of power in Europe kept even. I am also 
a Philerenus, a lover of peace, and I could wish 
the French were more inclinable to it now that 
the common enemy hath invaded the .territories 
of Saint Mark. Nor can I but admire that at the 
same time the French should assail Italy at one 
side when the Turk was doing it on the other. 
But had that great naval power of Christians 
which were this summer upon the coasts of Tus- 
cany gone against the Mahommedan fleet, which 
was the same time setting upon Candia, they 
might in all likelihood have achieved a glorious 
exploit and driven the Turk into the Hellespont. 
Nor is poor Christendom torn thus in pieces by 
the German, Spaniard, French and Swedes, but 
our three kingdoms have also most pitifully 
scratched her face, wasted her spirits, and let out 
some of her illustrious blood by our late horrid 
distractions, whereby it may be inferred that the 
Mufti and the Pope seem to thrive in their devo- 
tion one way, a chief part of the prayers of the 
one being that discord should still continue 
betwixt Christian princes ; of the other that divi- 
sion should still increase between the Protestants. 
This poor island is a woeful example thereof. 

I hear the peace betwixt Spain and Holland is 
absolutely concluded by the plenipotentiary minis- 
ters at Miinster, who have beat their heads so 
many years about it. But they write that the 
French and Swede do mainly endeavour, and set 
all the wheels of policy a-going to puzzle and 



OF JAMES HOWELL ^^^ 

prevent it. If it take effect, as I do not see how 
the Hollander in common honesty can evade it, 
I hope it will conduce much to a universal peace, 
which God grant, for war is a fire struck in the 
devil's tinder-box. No more now, but that I am, 
my lord, your most humble servitor, J. H. 
Fleet, I December 1643. 

XLIV 
To Mr E, O., Councillor at Grafs Inn 

THE sad tidings of my dear friend Doctor 
Pritchard's death sunk deep into me, and 
the more I ruminate upon it the more 1 resent it. 
But when I contemplate the order and those ada- 
mantine laws which nature put in such strict ex- 
ecution throughout this elementary world; when I 
consider that up and down this frail globe of earth 
we are but strangers or sojourners at best, being 
designed for an infinitely better country ; when I 
think that our egress out of this life is as natural 
to us as our ingress (all which he knew as much 
as any), these thoughts in a checking way turn 
my melancholy to a counter passion, they beget 
another spirit within me. You know that in the 
disposing of all sublunary things, nature is God's 
handmaid, fate His commissioner, time His in- 
strument, and death His executioner. By the first 
we have generation ; by the second, successes good 
or bad ; and the two last bring us to our end. 



94 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

Time with his vast scythe mows down all things, 
and death sweeps away these mowings. Well, he 
was a rare and a complete judicious scholar as any 
that I have known born under our meridian. He 
was both solid and acute, nor do I remember to 
have seen soundness and quaintness with such 
sweet strains of morality concur so in any. I 
should think that he fell sick of the times, but that 
I knew him to be so good a divine and philoso- 
pher, and to have studied the theory of this world 
so much, that nothing could take impression in 
him to hurt himself, therefore I am content to 
believe that his glass ran out without any jogging. 
I know you loved him dearly well, which shall 
make me the more your most affectionate servitor. 

Fleet, 3 August. J. H. 

XLV 
To y. JV.y Esq,, at Grafs Inn 

1 VALUE at a high rate the fair respects you 
show me, by the late ingenious expressions of 
your letter, but the merit you ascribe unto me in 
the superlative, might have very well served in the 
positive, and it is well if I deserve in that degree. 
You write that you have singular contentment and 
profit in the perusal of some things of mine. I am 
heartily glad they afforded any entertainment to 
a gentleman of so choice a judgment as yourself. 
I have a foolish working brain of mine own, in 



OF JAMES HOWELL 95 

labour still with something, and I can hardly keep 
it from superfetations, though oft-times it produce 
a mouse in lieu of a mountain. I must confess its 
best productions are but homely and hard-favoured, 
yet in regard they appear handsome in your eyes, 
I shall like them the better. — So I am, sir, yours 
most obliged to serve you, J. H. 

Fleet, 3 January 1644. 

XLVI 

To Mr Tho. H. 

THOUGH the times abound with schisms 
more than ever (the more is our misery), yet, 
I hope, you will not suffer any to creep into our 
friendship, though I apprehend some fears thereof 
by your long silence, and cessation of literal corre- 
spondence. You know there is a peculiar religion 
attends friendship ; there is according to the ety- 
mology of the word, a ligation and solemn tie, the 
rescinding whereof may be truly called a schism, 
or a piacle, which is more. There belong to this 
religion of friendship certain due rites and de- 
cent ceremonies, as visits, messages and missives. 
Though I am content to believe that you are firm 
in the fundamentals, yet I find, under favour, that 
you have lately fallen short of performing these 
exterior offices, as if the ceremonial law were quite 
abrogated with you in all things. Friendship also 
allows of merits and works of supererogation some- 



96 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

times, to make her capable of eternity. You know 
that pair which were taken up into the heaven, and 
placed amongst the brightest stars for their rare 
constancy and fidelity one to the other ; you know 
also they are put among the fixed stars, not the 
erratics, to show there must be no inconstancy in 
love. Navigators steer their course by them, and 
they are their best friends in working seas, dark 
nights, and distresses of weather, whence may be 
inferred that true friends should shine clearest in 
adversity, in cloudy and doubtful time. On my 
part this ancient friendship is still pure, orthodox 
and incorrupted ; and though I have not the op- 
portunity (as you have) to perform all the rites 
thereof in regard of this recluse life, yet I shall 
never err in the essentials. I am still yours KTujcrei, 
though I cannot be ^pT^cret, for in statu quo nunc 
I am grown useless and good for nothing, yet in 
point of possession I am as much as ever, your 
firm unalterable servitor, J. H. 

Fleet, 7 November 1643. 



XLVII 

To Mr S. B.y Merchant^ at his house in the 
Old Jury 

1 RETURN you those two famous speeches 
of the late Queen Elizabeth, with the addition 
of another from Baudius at an embassy here from 



OF JAMES HOWELL 97 

Holland. It is with languages as it is with liquors 
which by transfusion use to take wind from one 
vessel to another, so things translated into another 
tongue lose of their primitive vigour and strength, 
unless a paraphrastical version be permitted, and 
then the traduct may exceed the original, not other- 
wise, though the version be ever so punctual, es- 
pecially in these orations which are framed with 
such art, that like Vitruvius his palace, there is no 
place left to add one stone more without defacing, 
or to take any out without hazard of destroying 
the whole fabric. 

Certainly she was a princess of rare endowments 
for learning and languages. She was blessed with 
a long life, and triumphant reign attended with 
various sorts of admirable successes, which will be 
taken for some romance a thousand winters hence, 
if the world lasts so long. She freed the Scot from 
the French, and gave her successor a royal pension 
to maintain his court. She helped to settle the 
crown on Henry the Great's head ; she gave essence 
to the State of Holland ; she civilised Ireland, and 
suppressed divers insurrections there ; she pre- 
served the dominion of the narrow seas in greater 
glory than ever. She maintained open war against 
Spain when Spain was in her highest flourish for 
divers years together, yet she left a mighty treasure 
behind, which shows that she was a notable good 
housewife. Yet I have read divers censures of her 
abroad, that she was ungrateful to her brother of 
Spain, who had been the chiefest instrument under 



98 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

God to preserve her from the block, and had left 
her all Queen Mary's jewels without diminution, 
accusing her that afterwards she should first in- 
fringe the peace with him by intercepting his treas- 
ure in the narrow seas, by suffering her Drake to 
swim to his Indies and rob him there, by foment- 
ing and supporting his Belgian subjects against 
him then when he had an ambassador resident at 
her court ; but this was the censure of a Spanish 
author, and Spain had little reason to speak well of 
her. The French handle her worse by terming her, 
among other contumelies, r Haquen^e de ses propres 
vassaux. 

Sir, I must much value the frequent respects 
you have shown me, and am very covetous of the 
improvement of this acquaintance, for I do not 
remember at home or abroad to have seen in the 
person of any, a gentleman and a merchant so 
equally met as in you, which makes me style 
myself your most affectionate friend to serve you, 

Fleet, 3 May 1645. J- H- 

XLVIII 
To Dr D. Featly 

1 RECEIVED your answer to that futilous pam- 
phlet, with your desire of my opinion touching 
it. Truly, sir, I must tell you that never poor cur 
was tossed in a blanket, as you have tossed that 
poor coxcomb in the sheet you pleased to send me. 



OF JAMES HOWELL 99 

For whereas a fillip might have felled him, you 
have knocked him down with a kind of Herculean 
club sans resource. These times (more is the pity) 
labour with the same disease that France did dur- 
ing the Ligue, as a famous author hath it, " Prurigo 
scripturientium erat scabies temporum" (The itch- 
ing of scribblers was the scab of the time). It is 
just so now that any triobolatry Pasquiller, every 
tressis agaso^ any sterquilinious rascal is licensed to 
throw dirt in the faces of sovereign princes in open 
printed language. But I hope the times will mend 
and your man also if he hath any grace : you have 
so well corrected him. So I rest yours to serve 
and reverence you, J. H. 

Fleet, I August 1644. 

XLIX 

Ti? Captain T, Z/., in Westchester 

Captain L., 

I COULD wish that I had the same advantage 
of speed to send unto you at this time, that 
they have in Alexandretta, now called Scanderoon, 
when upon the arrival of any ships into the bay or 
any other important occasion they used to send 
their letters by pigeons, trained up purposely for 
that use, to Aleppo and other places. Such an airy 
messenger, such a volatile postillion would I desire 
now to acquaint you with the sickness of your 
mother-in-law, who I believe will be in another 



loo FAMILIAR LETTERS 

world (and I wish it may be heaven) before this 
paper comes to your hands, for the physicians 
have forsaken her, and Dr Burton told me it is a 
miracle if she lasts a natural day to an end, there- 
fore you shall do well to post up as soon as you 
•can, to look to your own aiBFairs, for I believe 
you will be no more sick of the mother. Master 
Davies in the mean time told me he will be very 
careful and circumspect that you be not wronged. 
I received yours of the tenth current and return 
a thousand thanks for the warm and melting sweet 
expressions you make of your respects unto me. 
All that I can say at present in answer is that I ex- 
tremely please myself in loving you and I like my 
own affections the better, because they tell me that 
I am your entirely devoted friend, J. H. 

Westminster, lo December 1631. 



To my Honourable Friend Sir C. C. 

I WAS upon point of going abroad to steal a 
solitary walk, when yours of the twelfth cur- 
rent came to hand ; the high researches and choice 
abstracted notions I found therein seemed to 
heighten my spirits and make my fancy fitter for 
my intended retirement and meditation ; add here- 
unto, that the countenance of the weather invited 
me, for it was a still evening, it was also a clear 
open sky, not a speck or the least wrinkle appeared 



OF JAMES HOWELL loi 

in the whole face of heaven, it was such a pure 
deep azure all the hemisphere over that I won- 
dered what was become of the three regions of the 
air with their meteors. So having got into a close 
field, I cast my face upward, and fell to consider 
what a rare prerogative the optic virtue of the 
eye hath, much more the intuitive virtue of the 
thought, that the one in a moment can reach 
heaven and the other go beyond it. Therefore 
sure that philosopher was but a kind of frantic 
fool, that would have plucked out both his eyes 
because they were a hindrance to his speculations. 
Moreover, I began to contemplate as I was in 
this posture the vast magnitude of the universe 
and what proportion this poor globe of earth might 
bear with it, for if those numberless bodies which 
stick in the vast roof of heaven, though they ap- 
pear to us but as spangles, be some of them thou- 
sands of times bigger than the earth — take the 
sea with it to boot, for they both make but one 
sphere, surely the astronomers had reason to term 
this sphere an indivisible point and a thing of no 
dimension at all being compared to the whole 
world. I fell then to think that at the second gen- 
eral destruction, it is no more for God Almighty 
to fire this earth than for us to blow up a small 
squib or rather one small grain of gunpowder. As 
I was musing thus, I spied a swarm of gnats wav- 
ing up and down the air about me which I knew 
to be part of the universe as well as I ; and me- 
thought it was a strange opinion of our Aristotle 



I02 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

to hold that the least of those small insected ephp- 
merans should be more noble than the sun, because 
it had a sensitive soul in it. I fell to think that 
the same proportion which those animalillios bore 
with me in point of bigness, the same I held with 
those glorious spirits which are near the Throne 
of the Almighty, what then should we think of 
the magnitude of the Creator Himself: doubtless 
it is beyond the reach of any human imagination 
to conceive it. In my private devotions I presume 
to compare Him to a great mountain of light, and 
my soul seems to discern some glorious form 
therein, but suddenly as she would fix her eyes 
upon the object, her sight is presently dazzled and 
disgregated with the refulgency and coruscations 
thereof. 

Walking a little farther I espied a young bois- 
terous bull breaking over hedge and ditch to a 
herd of kine in the next pasture, which made me 
think that if that fierce strong animal with others 
of that kind knew their own strength, they would 
never suffer man to be their master. Then look- 
ing upon them quietly grazing up and down, I 
fell to consider that the flesh which is daily dished 
upon our tables is but concocted grass, which is 
recarnified in our stomachs and transmuted to 
another flesh. I fell also to think what advantage 
those innocent animals had of man, which, as soon 
as nature cast them into the world, find their 
meat dressed, the cloth laid, and the table cov- 
ered ; they find their drink brewed and the but- 



OF JAMES HOWELL 103 

tery open, their beds made and their clothes ready ; 
and though man hath the faculty of reason to 
make him a compensation for the want of those 
advantages, yet this reason brings with it a thou- 
sand perturbations of mind and perplexities of 
spirit, griping cares and anguishes of thought, 
which those harmless silly creatures were exempted 
from. Going on, I came to repose myself upon 
the trunk of a tree, and I fell to consider further 
what advantage that dull vegetable had of those 
feeding animals, as not to be so troublesome and 
beholding to nature, nor to be so subject to 
starving, to diseases, to the inclemency of the 
weather, and to be far longer lived. I then espied 
a great stone, and sitting a while upon it, I fell 
to weigh in my thoughts that that stone was in 
a happier condition in some respects than either 
those sensitive creatures or vegetables I saw be- 
fore, in regard that that stone, which propagates 
by assimilation, as the philosophers say, needed 
neither grass nor hay, or any aliment for restora- 
tion of nature, nor water to refresh its roots or 
the heat of the sun to attract the moisture up- 
wards to increase growth as the other did. As I 
directed my pace homeward, I espied a kite soar- 
ing high in the air, and gently gliding up and 
down the clear region so far above my head, that 
I fell to envy the bird extremely and repine at his 
happiness that he should have a privilege to make 
a nearer approach to heaven than L 

Excuse me that I trouble you thus with these 



I04 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

rambling meditations, they are to correspond with 
you in some part for those accurate fancies of yours 
you lately sent me. So I rest your entire and true 
servitor, J. H. 

Holborn, 17 March 1639. 

LI 

Ti? Master Sergeant Z)., at Lincoln's Inn 

1 UNDERSTAND, with a deep sense of sor- 
row, of the indisposition of your son. I fear 
he hath too much mind for his body, and that 
superabounds with fancy, which brings him to 
these fits of distemper, proceeding from the black 
humour, melancholy. Moreover, I have observed 
that he is too much given to his study and self- 
society, especially to converse with dead men, I 
mean books. You know anything in excess is 
naught. Now, sir, were I worthy to give you 
advice, I could wish he were well married, and it 
may wean him from that bookish and thoughtful 
humour. Women were created for the comfort 
of men, and I have known that to some they have 
proved the best helleborum against melancholy. 
As this course may beget new spirits in him, so 
it must needs add also to your comfort. I am 
thus bold with you, because I love the gentleman 
dearly well, and honour you, as being your humble 
obliged servant, J. H. 

Westminster, 13 June 1632. 



OF JAMES HOWELL 105 

LII 

To my Noble Lady^ the Lady M. A, 

THERE is not anything wherein I take more 
pleasure than in the accomplishment of 
your commands, nor had ever any queen more 
power over her vassals than you have over my 
intellectuals. I find by my inclinations that it is 
as natural for me to do your will as it is for fire 
to fly upward, or any body else to tend to his 
centre ; but touching the last command your lady- 
ship was pleased to lay upon me (which is the fol- 
lowing hymn), if I answer not the fulness of your 
expectation it must be imputed to the suddenness 
of the command and the shortness of time. 

A Hymn to the Blessed Trinity 

\ 
To the First Person 

To Thee, dread Sovereign and dear Lord, 
Which out of nought didst me afford 
Essence and life, who mad'st me man. 
And, oh ! much more, a Christian, 

Lo ! from the centre of my heart 

All laud and glory I impart. 

Hallelujah. 

To the Second 

To Thee, blessed Saviour, who didst free 
My soul from Satan's tyranny. 
And mad* St her capable to be 



io6 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

An angel of Thy hierarchy. 
From the same centre I do raise 
All honour and immortal praise. 

Hallelujah. 

To the Third 

To Thee, sweet Spirit, I return 
That love wherewith my heart doth burn. 
And these blessed notions of my brain 
I now breathe up to Thee again : 

O let them redescend, and still 

My soul with holy raptures fill. 

Hallelujah. 

They are of the same measure, cadence and air 
as was that angeHcal hymn your ladyship pleased 
to touch upon your instrument, which, as it so en- 
chanted me then that my soul was ready to come out 
at my ears, so your voice took such impressions 
in me that methinks the sound still remains fresh 
with your ladyship*s most devoted servitor, 

J.H. 

Westminster, i April 1637. 

LIII 

Ti? Master P. W.^ at Westminster 

THE fear of God is the beginning of wis- 
dom, and the love of God is the end of 
the law." The former saying was spoken by no 
meaner man than Solomon, but the latter hath no 
meaner author than our Saviour Himself Touch- 
ing this beginning and this end, there is near re- 



OF JAMES HOWELL 107 

lation between them, so near, that the one begets the 
other. A harsh mother may bring forth sometimes 
a mild daughter, so fear begets love, but it begets 
knowledge first ; for " Ignoti nulla cupido," we 
cannot love God unless we know Him before. 
Both fear and love are necessary to bring us to 
heaven ; the one is the fruit of the law, the other 
of the Gospel. When the clouds of fear have van- 
ished, the beams of love then begin to glance 
upon the heart, and of all the members of the 
body, which are in a manner numberless, this is 
that which God desires, because it is the centre of 
love, the source of our affections, and the cistern 
that holds the most illustrious blood ; and in a 
sweet and well-devoted harmonious soul. Cor is 
no other than Camera Omnipotentis Regis ; it is one 
of God's closets, and indeed nothing can fill the 
heart of man, whose desires are infinite, but God, 
who is infinity itself. Love, therefore, must be a 
necessary attendant to bring us to Him ; but be- 
sides love there must be two other guides that are 
required in this journey, which are faith and hope. 
Now, that fear which the law enjoins us, turns to 
faith in the Gospel, and knowledge is the scope 
and subject of both, yet these last two bring us 
only towards the haven, but love goes along with 
us to heaven, and so remains an inseparable sem- 
piternal companion of the soul. Love, therefore, 
is the most acceptable sacrifice which we can offer 
our Creator, and he who doth not study the theory 
of it here, is never like to come to the practice of 



io8 EAMILIAR LETTERS 

it hereafter. It was a high hyperphysical expres- 
sion of St Austin when he fell into this rapture, 
" That if he were King of Heaven and God Al- 
mighty Bishop of Hippo, he would exchange 
places with Him because he loved Him so well/* 
This vote did so take me, that I have turned it 
to a paraphrastical hymn, which I send you for 
your viol, having observed often that you have a 
harmonious soul within you. 

The Vote 
O God, who can those passions tell 

Wherewith my heart to Thee doth swell : 

I cannot better them declare. 

Than by the wish made by that rare 
Aurelian bishop, who of old 
Thy oracles in Hippo told. 

If I were Thou, and Thou wert I, 

I would resign the Deity ; 

Thou should' st be God, 1 would be man ; 

Is *t possible that love more can ? 
Oh pardon that my soul hath ta'en 
So high a flight, and grows profane. 

For myself, my dear Phil, because I love you 
so dearly well, I will display my very intrinsicals 
to you in this point. When I examine the motions 
of my heart, I find that I love my Creator 
a thousand degrees more than I fear Him. Me- 
thinks I feel the little needle of my soul touched 
with a kind of magnetical attractive virtue, that it 
always moves towards Him as being her summum 
bonumy the true centre of her happiness. For 



OF JAMES HOWELL 109 

matter of fear, there is none that I fear more than 
myself, I mean those frailties which lodge within 
me, and the extravagances of my affections and 
thoughts ; in this particular I may say that I fear 
myself more than I fear the Devil, or Death, who 
is the king of fears. God guard us all, and guide 
us to our last home through the briars of 
this cumbersome life. In this prayer I rest, your 
most affectionate servitor, J. H. 

Holborn, 21 March 1639. 

LIV 

TCo the Right Honourable the Lord Cliff. 

My Lord, 

SINCE among other passages of entertain- 
ment we had lately at the Italian ordinary 
(where your Lordship was pleased to honour 
us with your presence) there happened a large 
discourse of wines, and of other drinks that were 
used by several nations of the earth, and that 
your Lordship desired me to deliver what I ob- 
served therein abroad, I am bold now to confirm 
and amplify in this letter what I then let drop 
ex tempore from me, having made a recollection 
of myself for that purpose. 

It is without controversy that in the nonage of 
the world, men and beasts had but one buttery, 
which was the fountain and river ; nor do we read 
of any vines or wines till two hundred years after 



no FAMILIAR LETTERS 

the Flood; but now I do not know or hear of any 
nation that hath water only for their drink, except 
the Japanese, and they drink it hot, too. ■ But we 
may say, that what beverage soever we make, 
either by brewing, by distillation, decoction, per- 
colation, or pressing, it is but water at first, nay, 
wine itself is but water sublimed, being nothing 
else but that moisture and sap which is caused 
either by rain or other kind of irrigations, about 
the roots of the vine, and drawn up to the 
branches and berries by the virtual attractive heat 
of the sun, the bowels of the earth serving as a 
limbec to that end, which made the Italian vine- 
yard man (after a long drought and an extremely 
hot summer which had parched up all his grapes) 
to complain that " Per mancamento d'acqua, bevo 
deir acqua, se io havessi acqua, beverei el vino '* 
(For want of water I am forced to drink water ; 
if I had water I would drink wine). It may be 
also applied to the miller when he hath no water 
to drive his mills. 

The vine doth so abhor cold that it cannot grow 
beyond the 49th degree to any purpose. Therefore 
God and nature hath furnished the northwest 
nations with other inventions of beverage. In this 
island the old drink was ale, noble ale, than which, 
as I heard a great foreign doctor affirm, there is no 
liquor that more increaseth the radical moisture and 
preserves the natural heat, which are the two pillars 
that support the life of man. But since beer hath 
hopped in amongst us, ale is thought to be much 



OF JAMES HOWELL iii 

adulterated and nothing so good as Sir John Old- 
castle and Smugg the smith was used to drink. 
Besides ale and beer, the natural drink of part of 
this isle may be said to be metheglin, braggot and 
mead, which differ in strength according to the 
three degrees of comparison. The first of the three, 
which is strong in the superlative, if taken immod- 
erately, doth stupefy more than any other liquor 
and keeps a-humming in the brain, which made 
one say that he loved not metheglin, because he 
was used to speak too much of the house he came 
from, meaning the hive. Cider and perry are also 
the natural drinks of part of this isle. But I have 
read in some old authors of a famous drink the 
ancient nation of the Picts, who lived betwixt Trent 
and Tweed and were utterly extinguished by the 
overpowering of the Scot, were used to make of 
decoction of flowers, the receipt whereof they kept 
as a secret and a thing sacred to themselves, for it 
perished with them. These are all the common 
drinks of this isle and of Ireland also, where they 
are more given to milk and strong waters of all 
colours. The prime is usquebagh, which cannot be 
made anywhere in that perfection, and whereas we 
drink it here in aqua-vitae measures, it goes down 
there by beer-glassfuls, being more natural to the 
nation. 

In the seventeen provinces hard by, and all Low 
Germany, beer is the common natural drink and 
nothing else ; so is it in Westphalia and all the 
lower circuit of Saxony, in Denmark, Sweden, and 



112 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

Norway. The Prussian hath a beer as thick as 
honey. In the Duke of Saxe's country- there is 
beer as yellow as gold made of wheat, and it in- 
ebriates as soon as sack. In some parts of Ger- 
many they used to spice their beer, which will keep 
many years, so that at some weddings there will 
be a butt of beer drunk out as old as the bride. 
Poland also is a beer country, but in Russia, 
Muscovy and Tartary they use mead, which is the 
naturalest drink of the country, being made of the 
decoction of water and honey. This is that which 
*» the ancients called hydromel. Mare*s milk is a 
great drink with the Tartar, which may be a cause 
why they are bigger than ordinary, for the physi- 
cians hold that milk enlargeth the bones, beer 
strengtheneth the nerves, and wine breeds blood 
sooner than any other liquor. The Turk when he 
hath his tripe full of pelaw, or of mutton and rice, 
will go to nature's cellar, either to the next well or 
river to drink water, which is his natural common 
drink, for Mahommed taught them that there was 
a devil in every berry of the grape, and so made 
a strict inhibition to all his sect from drinking 
of wine as a thing profane. He had also a reach of 
policy therein, because they should not be encum- 
bered with luggage when they went to war as other 
nations do, who are so troubled with the carriage 
of their wine and beverages. Yet hath the Turk 
peculiar drinks to himself besides, as sherbet made 
of juice of lemon, sugar, amber and other ingre- 
dients. He hath also a drink called cauphe, which 



OF JAMES HOWELL 113 

is made of a brown berry, and it may be called 
their clubbing drink between meals, which, though 
it be not very gustful to the palate, yet it is very 
comfortable to the stomach and good for the sight. 
But notwithstanding their prophet's anathema, 
thousands of them will venture to drink wine, 
and they will make a precedent prayer to their 
souls to depart from their bodies in the interim 
for fear she partake of the same pollution. Nay, 
the last Turk died of excess of wine, for he had 
at one time swallowed three and thirty okes, which 
is a measure near upon the bigness of our quart, 
and that which brought him to this was the com- 
pany of a Persian lord that had given him his 
daughter for a present, and came with him from 
Bagdad. Besides one accident that happened to 
him was that he had a eunuch who was used to be 
drunk, and whom he had commanded twice upon 
pain of life to refrain, swearing by Mahommed that 
he would cause him to be strangled if he found 
him the third time so ; yet the eunuch still con- 
tinued in his drunkenness. Hereupon the Turk, 
conceiving with himself that there must needs be 
some extraordinary delight in drunkenness, because 
this man preferred it before his life, fell to it him- 
self and so drank himself to death. 

In Asia there is no beer drunk at all, but water, 
wine and an incredible variety of other drinks made 
of dates, dried raisins, rice, divers sorts of nuts, 
fruits and roots. In the Oriental countries, as Cam- 
bay, Calicut, Narsingha, there is a drink called 



114 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

banque, which is rare and precious, and it is the 
height of entertainment they give their guests be- 
fore they go to sleep, Hke that nepenthe which the 
poets speak so much of, for it provokes pleasing 
dreams and delightful fantasies. It will accommo- 
date itself to the humour of the sleeper : as if he 
be a soldier, he will dream of victories and taking 
of towns ; if he be in love, he will think to enjoy 
his mistress ; if he be covetous, he will dream of 
mountains of gold, etc. In the Moluccas and 
Philippines there is a curious drink called tampoy, 
made of a kind of gillyflowers, and another drink 
called otraqua, that comes from a nut, and is the 
more general drink. In China they have a holy 
kind of liquor made of such sort of flowers for 
ratifying and binding of bargains, and having drunk 
thereof, they hold it no less than perjury to break 
what they promise, as they write of a river in 
Bithynia, whose water hath a peculiar virtue to 
discover a perjurer, for if he drink thereof, it will 
presently boil in his stomach, and put him to visi- 
ble tortures ; this makes me think of the river Styx 
among the poets which the gods were used to swear 
by, and it was the greatest oath for performance 
of anything. 

Nubila promissi Styx mihi testis erit. 

It puts me in mind also of that which some write 
of the river of Rhine for trying the legitimation of 
a child being thrown in. If he be a bastard he will 
sink, if otherwise he will not. 



OF JAMES HOWELL 115 

In China they speak of a tree called maguais, 
which affords not only good drink, being pierced, 
but all things else that belong to the subsistence of 
man ; they bore the trunk with an auger and there 
issueth out sweet potable liquor ; betwixt the rind 
and the tree there is a cotton or hempy kind of moss 
which they wear for their clothing. It bears huge 
nuts which have excellent food in them. It shoots 
out hard prickles above a fathom long, and those 
arm them ; with the bark they make tents, and the 
dotard trees serve for firing. 

Africa also hath a great diversity of drinks, as 
having more need of them, being a hotter country 
far. In Guinea of the Lower Ethiopia there is 
a famous drink called mingol, which issueth out 
of a tree much like the palm, being bored. But in 
the Upper Ethiopia or the Abyssinian's country, 
they drink mead decocted in a different manner ; 
there is also much wine there. The common drink 
of Barbary after water is that which is made of 
dates. But in Egypt in times past there was beer 
drunk called zichus in Latin, which was no other 
than a decoction of barley and water; they had 
also a famous composition (and they use it to this 
day) called chiffi, made of divers cordials and pro- 
vocative ingredients, which they throw into water 
to make it gustful ; they use it also for fumigation. 
But now the general drink of Egypt is Nile water, 
which of all waters may be said to be the best, 
insomuch that Pindar^s words might be more 
applicable to that than to any other dpLCTTov fxev 



ii6 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

vScop, It doth not only fertilise and extremely 
fatten the soil which it covers, but it . helps to 
impregnate barren women, for there is no place 
on earth where people increase and multiply faster. 
It is yellowish and thick, but if one cast a few 
almonds into a potful of it, it will become as clear 
as rock water ; it is also in a degree of lukewarm- 
ness as Martiars boy, 

Tolle puer calices tepidique toreumata Nili. 

In the New World they have a world of drinks, 
for there is no root, flower, fruit or pulse but is 
reducible to a potable liquor, as in the Barbados 
Island the common drink among the English is 
mobbi, made of potato roots. In Mexico and 
Peru, which is in the great continent of America, 
with other parts, it is prohibited to make wines 
under great penalties for fear of starving of trade, 
so that all the wines they have are sent from 
Spain. 

Now for the pure wine countries, Greece with 
all her islands, Italy, Spain, France, one part of 
four of Germany, Hungary, with divers countries 
thereabouts, all the islands in the Mediterranean 
and Atlantic sea are wine countries. 

The most generous wines of Spain grow in the 
midland parts of the continent, and Saint Martin 
bears the bell, which is near the Court. Now as 
in Spain so in all other wine countries, one cannot 
pass a day's journey but he will find a differing 
race of wine. Those kinds that our merchants 



OF JAMES HOWELL 117 

carry over are those only that grow upon the sea- 
side, as Malagas, Sherries, Tents and Aligants ; 
of this last there is little comes over right, there- 
fore the vintners make Tent (which is a name for 
all wines in Spain, except white) to supply the 
place of it. There is a gentle kind of white wine 
grows among the mountains of Galicia, but not 
of body enough to bear the sea, called Ribadavia. 
Portugal affords no wines worth the transporting. 
They have an odd stone we call yef, which they 
use to throw into their wines, which clarifieth it, 
and makes it more lasting. There is also a drink 
in Spain called Alosha, which they drink between 
meals in hot weather, and it is a hydromel made 
of water and honey ; much of the taste of our 
mead. In the Court of Spain there is a German 
or two that brews beer ; but for that ancient drink 
of Spain which Pliny speaks of, composed of 
flowers, the receipt thereof is utterly lost. 

In Greece there are no wines that have bodies 
enough to bear the sea for long voyages : some 
few muscadels and malmsies are brought over in 
small casks ; nor is there in Italy any wine trans- 
ported to England but in bottles, as verde and 
others, for the length of the voyage makes them 
subject to pricking and to lose colour, by reason 
of their delicacy. 

France, participating of the climes of all the 
countries about her, affords wines of quality ac- 
cordingly, as towards the Alps and Italy she hath 
a luscious rich wine called Frontiniac. In the 



ii8 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

country of Provence toward the Pyrenees in Lan- 
guedoCj there are wines congustable with those of 
Spain ; one of the prime sort of white wines is 
that of Beaume, and of clarets that of Orleans, 
though it be interdicted to wine the King's cellar 
with it, in regard of the corrosiveness it carries 
with it. As in France, so in all other wine coun- 
tries, the white is called the female, and the claret 
or red wine is called the male, because commonly 
it hath more sulphur, body and heat in it. The 
wines that our merchants bring over grow upon 
the river of Gironde near Bordeaux in Gascony, 
which is the greatest mart for wines in all France, 
the Scot, because he hath always been a useful con- 
federate to France against England, hath (among 
other privileges) right of pre-emption of first 
choice of wines in Bordeaux ; he is also permitted 
to carry his ordnance to the very walls of the 
town, whereas the English are forced to leave them 
at Blay a good way distant down the river. There 
is a hard green wine that grows about Rochelle 
and the islands thereabouts, which the cunning 
Hollander sometimes used to fetch, and he hath a 
trick to put a bagof herbs or some other infusions 
into it (as he doth brimstone in Rhenish) to give 
it a whiter tincture and more sweetness ; then they 
re-embark it for England, where it passeth for 
good bachrag, and this is called stooming of wines. 
In Normandy there is little or no wine at all grows, 
therefore the common drink of that country is 
cider, especially in Low Normandy. There are 



OF JAMES HOWELL 119 

also many beer-houses in Paris and elsewhere, but 
though their barley and water be better than ours 
or that of Germany, and though they have Eng- 
lish and Dutch brewers among them, yet they can- 
not make beer in that perfection. 

The prime wines of Germany grow about the 
Rhine, especially in the Psalts or Lower Palatinate 
about Bachrag, which hath its etymology from 
Bachiara, for in ancient times there was an altar 
erected there to the honour of Bacchus, in regard 
of the richness of the wines. Here and all France 
over it is held a great part of incivility for maid- 
ens to drink wine until they are married, as it is 
in Spain for them to wear high shoes or to paint 
till then. The German mothers, to make their 
sons fall into hatred of wine, do use when they are 
little to put some owls' eggs into a cup of Rhenish 
and sometimes a little living eel, which, twingling 
in the wine while the child is drinking, so scares 
him, that many come to abhor and have an anti- 
pathy to wine all their lives after. From Bachrag 
the first stocks of vines which grow now in the 
Grand Canary Island were brought, which, with 
the heat of the sun and the soil, is grown now to 
that height of perfection that the wines which they 
afford are accounted the richest, the most firm, 
and the best bodied and lastingest wines, and the 
most defecated from all earthly grossness of any 
other whatsoever ; it hath little or no sulphur at 
all in it, and leaves less dregs behind though one 
drink it to excess. French wines may be said but 



I20 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

to pickle meat in the stomach, but this is the wine 
that digests, and doth not only breed good blood, 
but it nutrifieth also, being a glutinous, substantial 
liquor: of this wine, if of any other, may be veri- 
fied that merry induction, that good wine makes 
good blood, good blood causeth good humours, 
good humours cause good thoughts, good thoughts 
bring forth good works, good works carry a man 
to heaven ; ergOy good wine carrieth a man to 
heaven. If this be true, surely more English go 
to heaven this way than any other, for I think 
there is more canary brought into England than to 
all the world besides ; I think also there is a hun- 
dred times more drunk under the name of canary 
wine than there is brought in, for sherries and 
malagas well mingled pass for canaries in most 
taverns more often than canary itself, else I do not 
see how it were possible for the vintner to save 
by it or to live by his calling unless he were per- 
mitted sometimes to be a brewer. When sacks and 
canaries were brought in first among us they were 
used to be drunk in aqua-vitae measures, and it 
was held fit only for those to drink of them who 
used to carry their legs in their hands, their eyes 
upon their noses, and an almanac in their bones ; 
but now they go down every one*s throat, both 
young and old, like milk. 

The countries that are freest from excess of 
drinking are Spain and Italy. If a woman can 
prove her husband to have been twice drunk, by 
the ancient laws of Spain she may plead for a di- 



OF JAMES HOWELL 121 

vorce from him. Nor indeed can the Spaniard, 
being hot brained, bear much drink, yet I have 
heard that Gondamar was once too hard for the 
King of Denmark when he was here in England. 
But the Spanish soldiers that have been in the 
wars of Flanders will take their cups freely and 
the Italians also. When I lived on the other side 
of the Alps, a gentleman told me a merry tale of 
a Ligurian soldier who had got drunk in Genoa, 
and Prince Doria going a-horseback to walk the 
round one night, the soldier took his horse by 
the bridle and asked what the price of him was, for 
he wanted a horse. The Prince, seeing in what hu- 
mour he was, caused him to be taken into a house 
and put to sleep. In the morning he sent for him 
and asked him what he would give for his horse. 
" Sir," said the recovered soldier, " the merchant 
that would have bought him yesternight of your 
highness went away betimes in the morning." The 
boonest companions for drinking are the Greeks 
and Germans, but the Greek is the merrier of 
the two, for he will sing and dance and kiss his 
next companion, but the other will drink as deep 
as he. If the Greek will drink as many glasses as 
there be letters in his mistress's name, the other 
will drink the number of his years, and though he 
be not apt to break out into singing, being not 
of so airy a constitution, yet he will drink often 
musically a health to every one of these six notes, 
Ut, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, which, with this reason, 
are all comprehended in this hexameter : 



122 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

UT RElevet MIserum FAtum SOLitosque LAbores. 

The fewest draughts he drinks are three, the 
first to quench the thirst past, the second to 
quench the present thirst, the third to prevent 
the future. I heard of a company of Low Dutch- 
men that had drunk so deep that, beginning to 
stagger and their heads turning round, they 
thought verily they were at sea, and that the 
upper chamber where they were was a ship, inso- 
much that, it being foul windy weather, they fell 
to throwing the stools and other things out of the 
window, to lighten the vessel, for fear of suffering 
shipwreck. 

Thus have I sent your Lordship a dry dis- 
course upon a fluent subject, yet I hope your 
lordship will please to take all in good part, be- 
cause it proceeds from your most humble and 
ready servitor, J. H. 

Westminster, 17 October 1634. 

LV 

T:o the R. H. the E. R. 

My Lord, 

YOUR desires have been always to me as 
commands, and your commands as binding 
as Acts of Parliament. Nor do I take pleasure to 
employ head or hand in anything more than in 
the exact performance of them. Therefore, if in 
this crabbed, difficult task you have been pleased 



OF JAMES HOWELL 123 

to impose upon me about languages I come short 
of your Lordship's expectation, I hope my obedi- 
ence will apologise for my disability. But whereas 
your Lordship desires to know what were the 
original mother tongues of the countries of Eu- 
rope, and how these modern speeches that are 
now in use were first introduced, I may answer 
hereunto that it is almost as easy a thing to dis- 
cover the source of the Nile as to find out the 
original of some languages, yet I will attempt it 
as well as I can, and I will take my first rise in 
these islands of Great Britain and Ireland : for to 
be curious and eagle-eyed abroad, and to be blind 
and ignorant at home (as many of our travellers 
are nowadays), is a curiosity that carrieth with it 
more of affectation than anything else. 

Touching the isle of Albion or Great Britain, 
the Cambrian or Cymrican tongue, commonly 
called Welsh (and Italian also is so called by the 
Dutch), is without controversy the prime mater- 
nal tongue of this island, and co-natural with it, 
nor could any of the four conquests that have 
been made of it by Roman, Saxon, Dane, or Nor- 
man ever extinguish her, but she remains still 
pure and incorrupt, of which language there is as 
exact and methodical a grammar, with as regular 
precepts, rules and institutions, both for prose 
and verse, compiled by Dr David Rice, as I have 
read in any tongue whatsoever. Some of the 
authenticest annalists report that the old Gauls 
(now the French) and the Britons understood one 



i!24 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

another, for they came thence very frequently to 
be instructed here by the British Druids, who 
were the philosophers and divines of those times, 
and this was long before the Latin tongue came 
on this side the Alps, or books written, and there 
is no meaner man than Caesar himself records 
this. 

This is one of the fourteen vernacular and in- 
dependent tongues of Europe, and she hath divers 
dialects. The first is the Cornish, the second the 
Armoricans', or the inhabitants of Brittany in 
France, whither a colony was sent over hence in 
the time of the Romans. There was also another 
dialect of the British language among the Picts, 
who kept in the north parts in Northumberland, 
Westmorland, Cumberland, and some parts be- 
yond the Tweed, until the whole nation of the 
Scot poured upon them with such multitudes that 
they utterly extinguished both them and their 
language. There are some who have been curious 
in the comparison of tongues, who believe that 
the Irish is but a dialect of the ancient British, 
and the learnedest of that nation, in a private dis- 
course I happened to have with him, seemed to 
incline to this opinion ; but this I can assure your 
Lordship of, that at my being in that country I 
observed, by a private collection which I made, 
that a great multitude of their radical words are 
the same with the Welsh, both for sense and 
sound. The tone also of both the nations is 
consonant, for when I first walked up and down 



OF JAMES HOWELL 125 

Dublin markets, methought verily I was in 
Wales, when I listened unto their speech ; but I 
found that the Irish tone is a little more quer- 
ulous and whining than the British, which, I con- 
jectured with myself, proceeded from their often 
being subjugated by the English. But, my lord, 
you would think it strange that divers pure 
Welsh words should be found in the new-found 
world in the West Indies, yet it is verified by 
some navigators, as grando (hark), nef (heaven), 
lluynog (a fox), penguin (a bird with a white 
hea4), with sundry others, which are pure British ; 
nay, 1 have read a Welsh epitaph which was 
found there upon one Madoc, a British prince, 
who, some years before the Norman Conquest, 
not agreeing with his brother, then Prince of 
South Wales, went to try his fortunes at sea, em- 
barking himself at Milford Haven, and so carried 
on those coasts. This if well proved might well 
entitle our crown to America, if first discovery 
may claim a right to any country. 

The Romans, though they continued here con- 
stantly above 300 years, yet could they not do as 
they did in France, Spain and other provinces, 
plant their language as a mark of conquest, but 
the Saxons did, coming in far greater numbers 
under Hengist from Holstein land, in the lower 
circuit of Saxony, which people resemble the 
English more than any other men upon earth, so 
that it is more than probable that they came first 
from thence ; besides, there is a town there called 



126 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

Lunden, and another place named Angles, whence 
it may be presumed that they took their new 
denomination here. Now the English, though, as 
Saxons (by which name the Welsh and Irish call 
them to this day) they and their language are 
ancient, yet in reference to this island they are the 
modernest nation in Europe, both for habitation, 
speech and denomination ; which makes me smile 
at Mr Fox's error in the very front of his epistle 
before the " Book of Martyrs," where he calls 
Constantine, the first Christian Emperor, the son 
of Helen, an Englishwoman, whereas she was 
purely British, and that there was no such nation 
upon earth called English at that time, nor above 
lOO years after, till Hengist invaded this island, 
and settling himself in it, the Saxons who came 
with him took the appellation of Englishmen. 
Now the English speech, though it be rich, 
copious and significant, and that there be divers 
dictionaries of it, yet under favour, I cannot call 
it a regular language, in regard, though often 
attempted by some choice wits, there could never 
any grammar or exact syntaxes be made of it, yet 
hath she divers sub-dialects, as the western and 
northern English, but her chiefest is the Scottish, 
which took footing beyond Tweed about the last 
conquest ; but the ancient language of Scotland is 
Irish, which the mountaineers and divers of 
the plain retain to this day. Thus, my lord, 
according to my small model of observation, have 
I endeavoured to satisfy you in part. I shall in 



OF JAMES HOWELL 127 

my next go on, for in the pursuance of any 
command from your Lordship my mind is like 
a stone thrown into deep water, which never rests 
till it goes to the bottom, so for this time and 
always, I rest, my lord, your most humble and 
ready servitor, J. H. 

Westminster, 9 August 1630. 

LVI 

To the Right Honourable the Earl R. 

My Lord, 

IN my last I fulfilled your Lordship's com- 
mands, as far as my reading and knowledge 
could extend, to inform you what were the radical 
primitive languages of those dominions that 
belong to the Crown of Great Britain, and how 
the English, which is now predominant, entered 
in first. I will now hoist sail for the Netherlands, 
whose language is the same dialect with the 
English, and was so from the beginning, being 
both of them derived from the High Dutch. The 
Danish also is but a branch of the same tree, no 
more is the Swedish, and the speech of them of 
Norway and Iceland. Now the High Dutch or 
Teutonic tongue is one of the prime and most 
spacious maternal languages of Europe, for besides 
the vast extent of Germany itself with the coun- 
tries and kingdoms before mentioned, whereof 
England and Scotland are two, it was the language 



128 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

of the Goths and Vandals, and continueth yet of 
the greatest part of Poland and Hungary, who 
have a dialect of hers for their vulgar tongue, yet 
though so many dialects and sub-dialects be 
derived from her, she remains a strong sinewy 
language pure and incorrupt in her first centre 
towards the heart of Germany. Some of her 
writers would make the world believe that she 
was the language spoken in Paradise, for they 
produce many words and proper names in the five 
books of Moses which fetch their etymology from 
her, as also in Persia to this day divers radical 
words are the same with her, as fader, moeder, 
broder, and star. And a German gentleman, 
speaking hereof one day to an Italian, that she 
was the language of Paradise, " Sure,'* said the 
Italian (alluding to her roughness), "then it was 
the tongue that God Almighty chid Adam in." 
" It may be so," replied the German, " but the 
devil had tempted Eve in Italian before." A full- 
mouthed language she is, and pronounced with 
that strength as if one had bones in his tongue 
instead of nerves. 

Those countries that border upon Germany, as 
Bohemia, Silesia, Poland and those vast countries 
north-eastward, as Russia and Muscovy, speak 
the Slavonic language. And it is incredible what 
I have heard some travellers report of the vast 
extent of that language, for beside Slavonia itself, 
which properly is Dalmatia and Liburnia, it is 
the vulgar speech of the Macedonians, Epirots, 



OF JAMES HOWELL 129 

Bosnians, Servians, Bulgarians, Moldavians, Rus- 
sians and Podolians, nay it spreads itself over all 
the eastern parts of Europe, Hungary and Wala- 
chia excepted, as far as Constantinople, and is 
frequently spoken in the seraglio among the 
Janizaries ; nor doth she rest there, but crossing 
the Hellespont, divers nations in Asia have her 
for their popular tongue, as the Circassians, Mon- 
grelians and Gazurites. Southward, neither in 
Europe nor Asia doth she extend herself farther 
than the north parallel of forty degrees. But those 
nations who celebrate divine service after the 
Greek ceremony, and profess obedience to the 
Patriarch of Constantinople, as the Russ, the 
Muscovite, the Moldavian, Russian, Bosnian, 
Servian and Bulgarian, with divers other eastern 
and north-east people that speak Slavonic, have 
her in a different character from the Dalmatian, 
Croatian, Istrian, Polonian, Bohemian, Silesian and 
other nations towards the west. These last have 
the Illyrian character, and the invention of it 
is attributed to St Jerome; the other is of CyriFs 
devising, and is called the Servian character. 
Now, although there be above threescore several 
nations that have this vast extended language 
for their vulgar speech, yet the pure primitive 
Slavonic dialect is spoken only in Dalmatia, Croa- 
tia, Liburnia and the countries adjacent, where 
the ancient Slavonians yet dwell ; and they must 
needs be very ancient, for there is in a church in 
Prague an old charter yet extant, given them by 



I30 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

Alexander the Great, which I thought not amiss to 
insert here. "We, Alexander the Great, son of 
King Philip, founder of the Grecian Empire, con- 
queror of the Persians, Medes, etc., and of the whole 
world from east to west, from north to south, son 
of Great Jupiter by, etc., so called. To you, the 
noble stock of Slavonians, and to your language, 
because you have been unto us a help, true in 
faith, and valiant in war, we confirm all that 
tract of earth from the north to the south of 
Italy, from us and our successors, to you and 
your posterity for ever. And if any other nation 
be found there, let them be your slaves. Dated 
at Alexandria the 12 of the goddess Minerva, wit- 
ness Ethra and the eleven princes whom we ap- 
point our successors." With this rare and one of 
the ancientest records in Europe I will put a pe- 
riod to this second account I send your Lordship 
touching languages. My next shall be of Greece, 
Italy, France and Spain, and so I shall shake 
hands with Europe, till when, I humbly kiss your 
hands, and rest, my Lord, your most obliged 
servitor, J. H. 

Westminster, 1 August 1630. 



OF JAMES HOWELL 131 

LVII 
To the Right Hon, E. R. 

My Lord, 

HAVING in my last rambled through High 
and Low Germany, Bohemia, Denmark, 
Poland, Russia, and those vast north-east regions, 
and given your Lordship a touch of their lan- 
guages (for it was no treatise I intended at first, 
but a cursory, short, literal account), I will now 
pass to Greece, and speak something of that large 
and learned language, for it is she indeed upon 
whom the beams of all scientific knowledge did 
first shine in Europe, which she afterwards dif- 
fused through all the western world. 

The Greek tongue was first peculiar to Hellas 
alone, but in tract of time the kingdom of Mace- 
don and Epirus had her; then she arrived on the 
isles of the iEgean Sea, which are interjacent, and 
divide Asia and Europe that way : then she got 
into the fifty-three isles of the Cyclades that lie 
betwixt Negropont and Candia, and so got up the 
Hellespont to Constantinople. She then crossed 
over to Anatolia, where, though she prevailed by 
introducing multitudes of colonies, yet she came 
not to be the sole vulgar speech anywhere there 
as far as to extinguish the former languages. Now 
Anatolia is the most populous part of the whole 
earth, for Strabo speaks of sixteen several nations 



132 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

that slept in her bosom, and it is thought the two 
and twenty languages which Mithridates, the great 
polyglot King of Pontus, did speak, were all within 
the circumference of Anatolia in regard his do- 
minions extended but a little farther. She glided 
then along the maritime coasts of Thrace, and 
passing Byzantium got into the outlets of Danube, 
and beyond her also to Taurica, yea, beyond that 
to the river Phasis, and thence compassing to 
Trebizond she took footing on all the circumfer- 
ence of the Euxine Sea. This was her course from 
east to north, whence we will return to Candia, 
Cyprus and Sicily ; thence crossing the Phare of 
Messina, she got all along the maritime coast of 
the Tyrrhenian Sea to Calabria ; she rested herself 
also a great while in Apulia. There was a popu- 
lous colony of Greeks also in Marseilles in France, 
and along the sea-coasts of Savoy. In Africa like- 
wise Cyrene, Alexandria and Egypt, with divers 
others, were peopled with Greeks ; and three causes 
may be alleged why the Greek tongue did so ex- 
pand herself. First, it may be imputed to the 
conquests of Alexander the Great, and the cap- 
tains he left behind him for successors. Then the 
love the people had to the sciences, speculative 
learning and civility, whereof the Greeks accounted 
themselves to be the grand masters, accounting 
all other nations barbarians besides themselves. 
Thirdly, the natural inclination and dexterity the 
Greeks had to commerce, whereunto they em- 
ployed themselves more than any other nation, 



OF JAMES HOWELL 133 

except the Phoenician and Armenian, which may- 
be a reason why in all places most commonly they 
colonised the maritime parts, for I do not find 
they did penetrate far into the bowels of any coun- 
try, but lived on the seaside in obvious mercan- 
tile places and accessible ports. 

Now many ages since the Greek tongue is not 
only impaired, and pitifully degenerated in her 
purity and eloquence, but extremely decayed in 
her amplitude and vulgarness. For first, there is 
no trace at all left her in France or Italy, the 
Slavonic tongue hath abolished her in Epirus and 
Macedon, the Turkish hath ousted her from most 
parts of Anatolia, and the Arabian hath extin- 
guished her in Syria, Palestine, Egypt and sundry 
other places. Now touching her degeneration from 
her primitive suavity and elegance, it is not alto- 
gether so much as the deviation and declension 
of the Italian from the Latin, yet it is so far that 
I could set foot on no place, nor hear of any people 
where either the Attic, Doric, iEolic or Bucolic 
ancient Greek is vulgarly spoken ; only in some 
places near Heraclea in Anatolia and Pelopon- 
nesus (now called the Morea) they speak of some 
towns called the Lacones which retain yet and 
vulgarly speak the old Greek, but incongruously ; 
yet though they cannot themselves speak accord- 
ing to rules, they understand those that do. Nor 
is this corruption happened to the Greek language 
as it useth to happen to others, either by the law 
of the conqueror or inundation of strangers, but it 



134 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

has insensibly crept in by their own supine negli- 
gence and fantasticnesSj especially by that com- 
mon fatality and changes which attend time and 
all other sublunary things; nor is this ancient sci- 
entifical language decayed only, but the nation of 
the Greeks itself is as it were mouldered away and 
brought in a manner to the same condition and to 
as contemptible a pass as the Jew is; insomuch 
that there cannot be two more pregnant instances 
of the lubricity and unstableness of mankind as the 
decay of these two ancient nations; the one the 
select people of God, the other the most famous 
that ever was for arts, arms, civility and govern- 
ment; so that in statu quo nunc they who termed 
all the world barbarians in comparison of them- 
selves in former times, may be now termed (more 
than any other) barbarians themselves, as having 
quite lost not only all inclination and aspirings to 
knowledge and virtue, but likewise all courage and 
bravery of mind to recover their ancient freedom 
and honour. 

Thus have you, my Lord, as much of the Greek 
tongue as I could comprehend within the bounds 
of a letter, a tongue that both for knowledge, for 
commerce and for copiousness was the principalest 
that ever was. In my next I will return nearer 
home and give your Lordship account of the Latin 
tongue, and of her three daughters the French, 
Italian and Spanish ; in the interim you find that 
I am still, my Lord, your most obedient servitor, 

Westminster, 25 July 1630. J. H. 



OF JAMES HOWELL 135 

LVIII 
To the Right Honourable £. R. 

My Lord, 

MY last was a pursuit of my endeavour to com- 
ply with your Lordship's desires touching 
languages ; and I spent more oil and labour than 
ordinary in displaying the Greek tongue, because 
we are more beholden to her for all philosophical 
and theoric knowledge, as also for rules of com- 
merce and commutative justice than unto any other. 
I will now proceed to the Latin tongue, which had 
her source in Italy, in Latium, called now Cam- 
pagna di Roma, and received her growth with the 
monstrous increase of the city and empire. Touch- 
ing the one, she came from poor mud walls at 
Mount Palatine, which were scarce a mile about 
at first, to be afterwards fifty miles' compass (as she 
was in the reign of Aurelianus), and her territories, 
which were hardly a day's journey's extent, came 
by favourable successes and fortune of war to be 
above three thousand in length, from the banks 
of Rhine, or rather from the shores of this island 
to Euphrates, and sometimes to the river Tigris. 
With this vast expansion of Roman territories the 
tongue also did spread ; yet I do not find by those 
researches I have made into antiquity that she was 
vulgarly spoken by any nation or in any entire 
country but Italy itself For notwithstanding that 



136 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

it was the practice of the Roman with the lance to 
usher in his laws and language as marks of con- 
quest, yet I believe his tongue never took such 
firm impression anywhere as to become the vulgar 
epidemic speech of any people else, or that she 
was able to null and extinguish the native languages 
she found in those places where she planted her 
standard ; nor can there be a more pregnant in- 
stance thereof than this island, for notwithstanding 
that she remained a Roman province four hundred 
years together, yet the Latin tongue could never 
have the vogue here so far as to abolish the British 
or Cambrian tongue. 

It is true that in France and Spain she made 
deeper impressions ; the reason may be in regard 
there were far more Roman colonies planted there, 
for whereas there were but four in this isle, there were 
nine-and-twenty in France and fifty-seven in Spain, 
and the greatest entertainment the Latin tongue 
found out of Italy herself was in these two king- 
doms ; yet I am of opinion that the pure, congruous, 
grammatical Latin was never spoken in either of 
them as a vulgar, vernacular language, common 
amongst women and children ; no, nor in all Italy 
itself except Latium. In Africa, though there were 
sixty Roman colonies dispersed upon that continent, 
yet the Latin tongue made not such deep impres- 
sions there, nor in Asia either; nor is it to be thought 
that in those colonies themselves did the common 
soldier speak in that congruity as the flamins, the 
judges, the magistrates, and chief commanders did. 



OF JAMES HOWELL 137 

When the Romans sent legions and planted colo- 
nies abroad, it was for divers political considerations, 
partly to secure their new acquests, partly to abate 
the superfluous numbers and redundancy of Rome; 
then by this way they found means to employ and 
reward men of worth, and to heighten their minds, 
for the Roman spirit did rise up, and take growth 
with his good successes, conquests, commands and 
employments. 

But the reason that the Latin tongue found not 
such entertainment in the Oriental parts was that 
the Greek had forestalled her, which was of 
more esteem among them, because of the learning 
that was couched in her, and that she was more 
useful for negotiation and traffic, whereunto the 
Greeks were more addicted than any people ; there- 
fore, though the Romans had an ambition to make 
those foreign nations that were under their yoke 
to speak, as well as to do what pleased them, and 
that all orders, edicts, letters and the laws them- 
selves, civil as well as martial, were published and 
executed in Latin ; yet I believe this Latin was 
spoken no otherwise among those nations than the 
Spanish or Castilian tongue is now in the Nether- 
lands, in Sicily, Sardinia, Naples, the two Indies, 
and other provincial countries which are under that 
king. Nor did the pure Latin tongue continue long 
at a stand of perfection in Rome and Latium itself 
among all sorts of people, but she received changes 
and corruption; neither do I believe that she was 
born a perfect language at first, but she received 



138 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

nutriment and degrees of perfection with time, 
which matures, refines and finisheth all things. 
The verses of the Salii composed by Numa 
Pompilius were scarcely intelligible by the flamins 
and judges themselves in the wane of the Roman 
commonwealth, nor the laws of the Decemviri. 
And if that Latin wherein were couched the capit- 
ulations of peace betwixt Rome and Carthage 
a little after the expulsion of the kings, which 
are yet extant upon a pillar in Rome, were com- 
pared to that which was spoken in Caesar's reign, 
140 years after, at which time the Latin tongue was 
mounted to the meridian of her perfection, she 
would be found as differing as Spanish now diifereth 
from the Latin. After Csesar and Cicero's time the 
Latin tongue continued in Rome and Italy in her 
purity four hundred years together, until the Goths 
rushed into Italy first under Alaric, then the Huns 
under Attila, then the Vandals under Gensericus, 
and the Heruli under Odoacer,who was proclaimed 
King of Italy. But the Goths a little after, under 
Theodoric, thrust out the Heruli, whose Theodo- 
ric was by Zeno, the Emperor, formally invested 
King of Italy, who with his successor reigned there 
peaceably sixty years and upwards ; so that in all 
probability the Goths cohabiting so long among 
the Italians must adulterate their language as well 
as their women. 

The last barbarous people that invaded Italy, 
about the year 570, were the Lombards, who, 
having taken firm rooting in the very bowels of 



OF JAMES HOWELL 139 

the country above 200 years without interruption, 
during the reign of twenty kings, must of neces- 
sity alter and deprave the general speech of the 
natural inhabitants, and among others one argu- 
ment may be that the best and midland part of 
Italy changed its name and took its appellation 
from these last invaders, calling itself Lombardy, 
which name it retains to this day. Yet before the 
intrusions of these wandering and warlike people 
into Italy, there may be a precedent cause of some 
corruption that might creep into the Latin tongue 
in point of vulgarity : first, the incredible confluence 
of foreigners that came daily far and near, from the 
colonised provinces to Rome ; then the infinite 
number of slaves, which surpassed the number of 
free citizens, might much impair the purity of the 
Latin tongue ; and lastly, those inconstancies and 
humour of novelty, which is naturally inherent in 
man, who, according to those frail elementary prin- 
ciples and ingredients whereof he is composed, is 
subject to insensible alterations and apt to receive 
impressions of any change. 

Thus, my Lord, as succinctly as I could digest 
it into the narrow bounds of an epistle, have I 
sent your Lordship this small survey of the Latin, 
or first Roman tongue. In my next I shall fall 
aboard of her three daughters, viz., the Italian, the 
Spanish and the French, with a diligent investiga- 
tion what might be the original nativ.e languages 
of those countries from the beginning before the 
Latin gave them the law; in the interim I crave 



I40 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

a candid Interpretation of what is past, and of my 
studiousness in executing your Lordship's injunc- 
tions. — So I am, my Lord, your most humble and 
obedient servant, J. H. 

Westminster, July 1 6, 1630. 

LIX 

T(9 the Right Honourable the E. R. 

My Lord, 

MY last was a discourse of the Latin or prim- 
itive Roman tongue, which may be said to 
be expired in the market, though living yet in the 
schools ; I mean she may be said to be defunct in 
point of vulgarity any time these 1000 years past. 
Out of her urine have sprung up the Italian, the 
Spanish and the French, whereof I am now to 
treat, but I think it not improper to make a re- 
search first what the radical prime mother tongues 
of these countries were before the Roman eagle 
planted her talons upon them. 

Concerning Italy, doubtless there were divers 
before the Latin did spread all over that country. 
The Calabrian and Apulian spoke Greek, whereof 
some relics are to be found to this day, but it was 
an adventitious, no mother language to them. It 
is confessed that Latium itself and all the terri- 
tories about Rome had the Latin for its maternal 
and common first vernacular tongue, but Tuscany 
and Liguria had others quite discrepant, viz., the 



OF JAMES HOWELL 141 

Etruscan and Mesapian, whereof though there be 
some records yet extant, yet there are none alive 
that can understand them. The Oscan, the Sabine 
and Tusculan, are thought to be but dialects to 
these. 

Now the Latin tongue, with the coincidence of 
the Goths' language and other northern people, 
who like waves tumbled off one another, did 
more in Italy than anywhere else, for she utterly 
abolished (upon that part of the continent) all 
other maternal tongues as ancient as herself, and 
thereby their eldest daughter, the Italian, came to 
be the vulgar universal tongue to the whole coun- 
try ; yet the Latin tongue had not the sole hand 
in doing this, but the Goths and other septen- 
trional nations who rushed into the Roman diction 
had a share in it as I said before, and pegged in 
some words which have been ever since irremove- 
able, not only in the Itahan, but also in her two 
younger sisters, the Spanish and the French, who 
felt also the fury of those people. Now the Italian 
is the smoothest and softest running language 
that is, for there is not a word except some few 
monosyllables, conjunctions and prepositions, that 
ends with a consonant in the whole language, nor 
is there any vulgar speech which hath more sub- 
dialects in so small a tract of ground, for Italy 
itself affords above eight. There you have the 
Roman, the Tuscan, the Venetian, the Milanese, 
the Neapolitan, the Calabreze, the Genoese, the 
Piedmontese ; you have the Corsican, Sicilian, 



142 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

with divers other neighbouring islands ; and as 
the cause why from the beginning there were so 
many differing dialects in the Greek tongue was 
because it was sliced into so many islands, so the 
reason why there be so many sub-dialects in the 
Italian is the diversity of governments that the 
country is squandered into, there being in Italy at 
this day two kingdoms, viz., those of Naples and 
Calabria ; three republics, viz., Venice, Genoa and 
Lucca, and divers other absolute princes. 

Concerning the original language of Spain, it 
was without any controversy the Basque or Can- 
tabrian, which tongue and territory neither Ro- 
man, Goth (whence this king hath his pedigree, 
with divers of the nobles) nor Moor could ever 
conquer, though they had overrun and taken firm 
footing in all the rest for many ages ; therefore as 
the remnant of the old Britons here, so are the 
Biscayners accounted the ancientest and unques- 
tionablest gentry of Spain, insomuch that when 
any of them is to be dubbed knight, there is no 
need of any scrutiny to be made whether he be 
clear of the blood of the Moriscos, who had 
mingled and incorporated with the rest of the 
Spaniards about 700 years ; and as the Arcadians 
and Atticans in Greece for their immemorial anti- 
quity are said to vaunt of themselves, that the one 
are UpooreX'qvoi, before the moon, the other 
avToxOove^, issued of the earth itself, so the Bis- 
cayner hath such like rodomontades. 

The Spanish or Castilian language hath but few 



OF JAMES HOWELL 143 

sub-dialects ; the Portuguese is most consider- 
able. Touching the Catalan and Valencian ; they are 
ratherdialectsof the French, Gascon or Aquitanian. 
The purest dialect of the Castilian tongue is held 
to be in the town of Toledo, which above other 
cities of Spain hath this privilege to be arbiters in 
the decision of any controversy that may arise 
touching the interpretation of any Castilian word. 

It is an infallible rule, to find out the mother and 
ancientest tongue of any country, to go among those 
who inhabit the barrenest and most mountainous 
places, which are posts of security and fastness, 
whereof divers instances could be produced ; but 
let the Biscayner in Spain, the Welsh in Great 
Britain, and the mountaineers in Epirus serve the 
turn, who yet retain their ancient unmixed mother 
tongues, being extinguished in all the country be- 
sides. 

Touching France, it is not only doubtful, but 
left yet undecided what the true genuine Gallic 
tongue was ; some would have it to be the German, 
some the Greek, some the old British or Welsh, 
and the last opinion carrieth away with it the most 
judicious antiquaries. Now all Gallia is not meant 
by it, but the country of the Celtse that inhabit the 
middle part of France, who are the true Gauls. 
Caesar and Tacitus tell us that these Celtae and the 
old Britons (whereof I gave a touch in my first 
letter) did mutually understand one another, and 
some do hold that this island was tied to France, 
as Sicily was to Calabria and Denmark to Germany, 



144 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

by an isthmus or neck of land betwixt Dover and 
Boulogne, for if one do well observe the rocks 
of the one and the cliffs of the other he will judge 
them to be one homogeneous piece, and that they 
were cut and shivered asunder by some act of vio- 
lence. 

The French or Gallic tongue hath divers dia- 
lects : the Picard, that of Jersey and Guernsey (ap- 
panages once to the Duchy of Normandy) ; the 
Provencal, the Gascon or speech of Languedoc, 
which Scaliger would etymologise from Langue- 
doc, whereas it comes rather from Langue de Got, 
for the Saracens and Goths, who, by their incur- 
sions and long stay in Aquitaine corrupted the 
language of that part of Gallia. Touching the Bre- 
ton and they of Beam, the one is a dialect of the 
Welsh, the other of the Basque. The Wallon, who 
is under the King of Spain, and the Liegois, is 
also a dialect of the French, which in their own 
country they call Roman. The Spaniard also terms 
his Castilian Roman, whence it may be inferred 
that the first rise and derivation of the Spanish 
and French were from the Roman tongue, not 
from the Latin, which makes me think that the 
language of Rome might be degenerated and be- 
come a dialect to our own mother tongue (the 
Latin) before she brought her language to France 
and Spain. 

There is, besides these sub-dialects of the Italian, 
Spanish and French, another speech that hath 
a great stroke in Greece and Turkey called Frank, 



OF JAMES HOWELL 145 

which may be said to be composed of all the three, 
and is at this day the greatest language of commerce 
and negotiation in the Levant. 

Thus have I given your Lordship the best ac- 
count I could of the sister-dialects of the Italian, 
Spanish and French. In my next I shall cross 
the Mediterranean to Africa, and the Hellespont 
to Asia, where I shall observe the generallest lan- 
guages of those vast continents where such num- 
berless swarms and differing sorts of nations do 
crawl up and down this earthly globe, therefore it 
cannot be expected that I should be so punctual 
there as in Europe. — So I am still, my Lord, 
your obedient servitor, J. H. 

Westminster, 7 July 1630. 

LX 

To the Right Hon, the £. R. 

My Lord, 

HAVING in my former letters made a flying 
progress through the European world, and 
taken a view of the several languages, dialects 
and sub-dialects whereby people converse one 
with another, and being now wind-bound for 
Africa, I held it not altogether supervacaneous to 
take a review of them, and inform your Lordship 
what languages are original independent mother 
tongues of Christendom, and what are dialects, 
derivations or degenerations from their originals. 



146 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

The mother tongues of Europe are thirteen, 
though Scaliger would have but eleven. There 
is the Greek, i, the Latin, 2, the Dutch, 3, the 
Slavonian, 4, the Welsh or Cambrian, 5, the 
Basque or Cantabrian, 6, the Irish, 7, the Alban- 
ian in the mountains of Epirus, 8, the Tartarian, 
9, the old Illyrian, 10, remaining yet in Liburnia, 
the Jazygian, 11, on the north of Hungary, the 
Cauchian, 12, in East Friezeland, the Finnic, 13, 
which I put last with good reason, because they 
are the only heathens of Europe, all which were 
known to be in Europe in the time of the Roman 
Empire. There is a learned antiquary that makes 
the Arabic to be one of the mother tongues of 
Europe, because it was spoken in some of the 
mountains of South Spain. It is true it was spoken 
for divers hundred years all Spain over after the 
conquest of the Moors, but yet it could not be 
called a mother tongue, but an adventitious tongue 
in reference to that part of Europe. 

And now that I am to pass to Afric, which 
is far bigger than Europe, and to Asia, which is 
far bigger than Afric, and to America, which is 
thought to be as big as all the three, if Europe 
herself hath so many mother languages quite dis- 
crepant one from the other, besides secondary 
tongues and dialects which exceed the number 
of their mothers, what shall we think of the other 
three Huge continents in point of differing lan- 
guages ? Your Lordship knows that there be 
divers meridians and climes in the heavens whence 



OF JAMES HOWELL 147 

influxes of differing qualities fall upon the inhab- 
itants of the earth, and as they make men to differ 
in the ideas and conceptions of the mind, so in 
the motion of the tongue, in the tune and tones 
of the voice, they come to differ one from the 
other. Now, all languages at first were imperfect 
confused sounds, then came they to be syllables, 
then words, then speeches and sentences, which 
by practice, by tradition and a kind of natural 
instinct from parents to children grew to be fixed. 
Now to attempt a survey of all the languages in 
the other three parts of the habitable earth were 
rather a madness than a presumption, it being 
a thing of impossibility, and not only above the 
capacity, but beyond the search of the activest 
and knowingest man upon earth. Let it there- 
fore suffice while I behold these nations that read 
and write from right to left, from the liver to the 
heart, I mean the Africans and Asians, that I take 
a short view of the Arabic in the one, and the 
Hebrew or Syriac in the other, for touching 
the Turkish language it is but a dialect of the 
Tartarian, though it have received a late mixture 
of the Armenian, the Persian and Greek tongues, 
but especially of the Arabic, which was the mo- 
ther tongue of their prophet, and is now the sole 
language of their Alcoran, it being strictly inhib- 
ited and held to be a prophaneness to translate it 
to any other, which they say preserves them from 
the encroachment of schisms. 

Now the Arabic is a tongue of vast expansion. 



148 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

for besides the three Arabias it is become the 
vulgar speech of Syria, Mesopotamia, Palestine 
and Egypt ; from whence she stretches herself to 
the Straits of Gibraltar, through all that vast tract 
of earth which lieth betwixt the mountain Atlas 
and the Mediterranean Sea, which is now called 
Barbary, where Christianity and the Latin tongue, 
with divers famous bishops, once flourished. She 
is spoken likewise in all the northern parts of the 
Turkish Empire, as also in Petty Tartary ; and 
she above all others hath reason to learn Arabic, 
for she is in hope one day to have the Crescent 
and the whole Ottoman Empire, it being entailed 
upon her in case the present race should fail, 
which is now in more danger than ever ; in fine, 
wherever the Mahommedan religion is professed, 
the Arabic is either spoken or taught. 

My last view shall be of the first language of 
the earth, the ancient language of Paradise, the 
language wherein God Almighty Himself pleased 
to pronounce and publish the tables of the law, 
the language that had a benediction promised her, 
because she would not consent to the building of 
the Babylonish tower. Yet this holy tongue hath 
had also her eclipses, and is now degenerated to 
many dialects, nor is she spoken purely by any 
nation upon the earth, a fate also which is befallen 
the Greek and Latin. The most spacious dialect 
of the Hebrew is the Syriac, which had her begin- 
ning in the time of the captivity of the Jews at 
Babylon, while they cohabited and were mingled 



OF JAMES HOWELL 149 

with the Chaldeans, in which tract of seventy 
years' time the vulgar sort of Jews, neglecting 
their own maternal tongue (the Hebrew), began 
to speak the Chaldee, but not having the right 
accent of it, and fashioning that newly learned 
language to their own innovation of points, affixes 
and conjugations, out of that intermixture of He- 
brew and Chaldee resulted a third language called 
to this day the Syriac, which also after the time 
of our Saviour began to be more adulterated by 
admission of Greek, Roman and Arabic. In this 
language is the Talmud and Targum couched, and 
all their rabbins, as Rabbi Jonathan, and Rabbi 
Onkelos, with others, have written in it, insomuch 
that, as I said before, the ancient Hebrew had the 
same fortune that the Greek and Latin tongues 
had to fall from being naturally spoken anywhere, 
to lose their general communicableness and vul- 
garity, and to become only school and book 
languages. 

Thus we see, that as all other sublunary things 
are subject to corruption and decay, as the potent- 
est monarchies, the proudest republics, the opu- 
lentest cities have their growth, declinings and 
periods ; as all other elementary bodies likewise, 
by reason of the frailty of their principles, come 
by insensible degrees to alter and perish, and can- 
not continue long at a stand of perfection, so the 
learnedest and more eloquent languages are not 
free from this common fatality, but they are liable 
to those alterations and revolutions, to those fits 



I50 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

of inconstancy, and other destructive contingencies 
which are unavoidably incident to all' earthly 
things. 

Thus, my noble lord, have I eviscerated myself, 
and stretched all my sinews; I have put all my 
small knowledge, observations and reading upon 
the tenter to satisfy your Lordship's desires touch- 
ing this subject. If it afford you any contentment 
I have hit the white I aimed at, and hold myself 
abundantly rewarded for my oil and labour. — So 
I am, my Lord, your most humble and ever 
obedient servitor, J. H. 

Westminster, i July 1630. 

LXl 
To the Hon. Master Car, Ra. 

YOURS of the 7th current was brought me, 
whereby I find that you did put yourself to 
the penance of perusing some epistles that go 
imprinted lately in my name. I am bound to you 
for your pains and patience (for you write you 
read them all through), much more for your can- 
did opinion of them, being right glad that they 
should give entertainment to such a choice and 
judicious gentleman as yourself. But whereas you 
seem to except against something in one letter 
that reflects upon Sir Walter Raleigh's voyage to 
Guiana, because I term the gold mine he went to 
discover an "airy and supposititious mine," and so 



OF JAMES HOWELL 151 

infer that it toucheth his honour, truly, sir, I will 
deal clearly with you in that point that I never 
harboured in my brain the least thought to expose 
to the world anything that might prejudice, much 
less traduce in the least degree that could be, that 
rare and renowned knight whose fame shall con- 
tend in longevity with this island itself, yea, with 
that great world which he historiseth so gallantly. 
I was a youth about the town when he undertook 
that expedition, and I remember most men sus- 
pected that mine then to be but an imaginary 
politic thing ; but at his return, and missing of the 
enterprise, these suspicions turned in most to real 
beliefs that it was no other. And King James in 
that declaration, which he commanded to be printed 
and published afterwards touching the circum- 
stances of this action (upon which my letter is 
grounded, and which I have still by me), terms it 
no less. And if we may not give faith to such 
public regal instruments, what shall we credit ? Be- 
sides there goes another printed kind of remon- 
strance annexed to that declaration which intimates 
as much. And there is a worthy captain in this 
town, who was co-adventurer in that expedition, 
who, upon the storming of St Thomas, heard young 
Mr Raleigh encouraging his men in these words, 
"Come on, my noble hearts, this is the mine we 
come for, and they who think there is any other 
are fools." Add hereunto that Sir Richard Baker 
in his last historical collections intimates so much. 
Therefore, it was far from being any opinion 



152 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

broached by myself, or bottomed upon weak 
grounds ; for I was careful of nothing more, than 
that those letters, being to breathe open air, should 
relate nothing but what should be derived from 
good fountains. And truly, sir, touching that apo- 
logy of Sir Walter Raleigh's you write of, I never 
saw it, and I am very sorry I did not, for it had 
let in more light upon me of the carriage of that 
great action, and then you might have been as- 
sured that I would have done that noble knight all 
the right that could be. 

But, sir, the several arguments that you urge in 
your letters are of that strength, I confess, that they 
are able to rectify any indifferent man in this point, 
and induce him to believe that it was no chimera, 
but a real mine ; for you write of divers pieces of 
gold brought thence by Sir Walter himself and 
Captain Kemys, and of some ingots that were 
found in the governor's closet at St Thomas's, with 
divers crucibles, and other refining instruments ; 
yet, under favour, that might be, and the benefit 
not countervail the charge, for the richest mines 
that the King of Spain hath upon the whole con- 
tinent of America, which are the mines of Potosi, 
yield him but six in the hundred, all expenses de- 
frayed. You write how King James sent privately 
to Sir Walter, being yet in the Tower, to intreat 
and command him, that he would impart his whole 
design unto him under his hand, promising upon 
the word of a king to keep it secret, which being 
done accordingly by Sir Walter Raleigh, that very 



OF JAMES HOWELL 153 

original paper was found in the said Spanish gover- 
nor's closet at St Thomas's; whereat, as you have 
just cause to wonder, and admire the activeness of 
the Spanish agents about our Court at that time, so 
I wonder no less at the miscarriage of some of his 
late Majesty's ministers, who, notwithstanding that 
he had passed his royal word to the contrary, yet 
they did help Count Gondomar to that paper, so 
that the reproach lieth more upon the English than 
the Spanish ministers in this particular. Whereas 
you allege that the dangerous sickness of Sir 
Walter being arrived near the place, and the death 
of (that rare spark of courage) your brother upon 
the first landing, with other circumstances, dis- 
couraged Captain Kemys from discovering the 
mine, but would reserve it for another time, I am 
content to give as much credit to this as any 
man can ; as also that Sir Walter, if the rest of the 
fleet, according to his earnest motion, had gone 
with him to revictual in Virginia (a country where 
he had reason to be welcome unto, being of his 
own discovery), he had a purpose to return to 
Guiana the spring following to pursue his first 
design. I am also very willing to believe that it 
cost Sir Walter Raleigh much more to put himself 
in equipage for that long intended voyage, than 
would have paid for his liberty, if he had gone about 
to purchase it for reward of money at home, though 
I am not ignorant that many of the co-adventurers 
made large contributions, and the fortunes of some 
of them suffer for it at this very day. But although 



154 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

Gondomar, as my letter mentions, calls Sir Walter 
pirate, I, for my part, am far from thinking so, 
because, as you give an unanswerable reason, the 
plundering of St Thomas was an act done beyond 
the equator, where the articles of peace betwixt the 
two kings do not extend. Yet, under favour, 
though he broke not the peace, he was said to 
break his patent by exceeding the bounds of his 
commission, as the foresaid declaration relates, for 
King James had made strong promises to Count 
Gondomar, that this fleet should commit no out- 
rages upon the King of Spain's subjects by land, 
unless they began first, and I believe that was the 
main cause of his death, though I think if they 
had proceeded that way against him in a legal 
course of trial, he might have defended himself 
well enough. 

Whereas you allege that if that action had suc- 
ceeded, and afterwards been well prosecuted, it 
might have brought Gondomar's great Catholic 
master to have been begged for at the church 
doors by friars, as he was once brought in the lat- 
ter end of Queen Elizabeth's days, I believe it 
had much damnified him, and interrupted him in 
the possession of his West Indies, but not brought 
him under favour to so low an ebb. I have ob- 
served that it is an ordinary thing in your Popish 
countries for princes to borrow from the altar 
when they are reduced to any straits, for they say, 
"The riches of the Church are to serve as an- 
chors in time of a storm." Divers of our kings 



OF JAMES HOWELL 155 

have done worse, by pawning their plate and jew- 
els. Whereas my letter makes mention that Sir 
Walter Raleigh mainly laboured for his pardon 
before he went but could not compass it, this is 
also a passage in the foresaid printed relation ; but 
I could have wished with all my heart he had ob- 
tained it, for I believe that neither the transgression 
of his commission, nor anything that he did beyond 
the Line, could have shortened the line of his 
life otherwise, but in all probability we might have 
been happy in him to this very day, having such 
a heroic heart as he had, and other rare helps by 
his great knowledge, for the preservation of 
health. I believe without any scruple what you 
write that Sir William St John made an overture 
unto him of procuring his pardon for ;^ 1500, but 
whether he could have effected it I doubt a little, 
when he had come to negotiate it really. But 
I extremely wonder how that old sentence which 
had lain dormant above sixteen years against Sir 
Walter Raleigh could have been made use of to 
take off his head afterwards, considering that 
the Lord Chancellor Verulam, as you write, told 
him positively (as Sir Walter was acquainting him 
with that proffer of Sir William St John for a pe- 
cuniary pardon) in these words, " Sir, the knee 
timber of your voyage is money ; spare your 
purse in this particular, for upon my life you have 
a sufficient pardon for all that is passed already, 
the King having under his broad seal made you 
admiral of your fleet, and given you power of the 



156 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

martial law over your officers and soldiers." One 
would think that by this Royal Patent, which 
gave him power of life and death over the King's 
liege people, Sir Walter Raleigh should become 
rectus in curia^ and free from all old convictions. 
But, sir, to tell you the plain truth. Count Gon- 
domar at that time had a great stroke in our Court, 
because there was more than a mere overture 
of a match with Spain, which makes me apt to 
believe that that great wise knight, being such an 
anti-Spaniard, was made a sacrifice to advance the 
matrimonial treaty. But I must needs wonder, 
as you justly do, that one and the same man 
should be condemned for being a friend to the 
Spaniard (which was the ground of his first con- 
demnation), and afterwards lose his head for 
being their enemy by the same sentence. Touch- 
ing his return, I must confess I was utterly 
ignorant that those two noble earls, Thomas of 
Arundel and William of Pembroke, were engaged 
for him in this particular, nor doth the printed re- 
lation make any mention of them at all, therefore 
I must say that envy herself must pronounce 
that return of his, for the acquitting of his fiduci- 
ary pledges, to be a most noble act, and waiving that 
of King Alphonso's Moor, I may more properly 
compare it to the act of that famous Roman com- 
mander (Regulus, as I take it), who to keep his 
promise and faith, returned to his enemies where 
he had been prisoner, though he knew he went to 
an inevitable death. But well did that faithless. 



OF JAMES HOWELL 157 

cunning knight who betrayed Sir Walter Raleigh 
in his intended escape, being come ashore, fall to 
that contemptible end, as to die a poor distracted 
beggar in the Isle of Lundey, having for a bag of 
money falsified his faith, confirmed by the tie of 
the Holy Sacrament, as you write, as also before 
the year came about to be found clipping the 
same coin in the King's own house at Whitehall, 
which he had received as a reward for his perfidi- 
ousness, for which being condemned to be hanged, 
he was driven to sell himself to his shirt to pur- 
chase his pardon of two knights. 

And now, sir, let that glorious and gallant cava- 
lier Sir Walter Raleigh (who lived long enough 
for his own honour, though not for his country, 
as it was said of a Roman consul) rest quietly in 
his grave, and his virtues live in his posterity, as 
I find they do strongly and very eminently in 
you. I have heard his enemies confess that he 
was one of the weightiest and wisest men that this 
island ever bred. Mr Nath. Carpenter, a learned 
and judicious author, was not in the wrong when 
he gave this discreet character of him : " Who hath 
not known or read of this prodigy of wit and for- 
tune. Sir Walter Raleigh, a man unfortunate in 
nothing else but in the greatness of his wit and ad- 
vancement, whose eminent worth was such, both 
in domestic policy, foreign expeditions and dis- 
coveries, in arts and literature, both practical and 
contemplative, that it might seem at once to con- 
quer both example and imitation ? " 



158 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

Now, sir, hoping to be rectified in your judg- 
ment touching my opinion of that illustrious 
knight your father, give me leave to kiss your 
hands very affectionately for the respectful men- 
tion you please to make of my brother, once your 
neighbour. He suffers, good soul, as well as I, 
though in a differing manner. I also much value 
that favourable censure you give of those rambling 
letters of mine, which indeed are nought else than 
a legend of the cumbersome life and various for- 
tunes of a cadet ; but whereas you please to say, 
that the world of learned men is much beholden 
to me for them, and that some of them are freighted 
with many excellent and quaint passages, delivered 
in a masculine and solid style, adorned with much 
eloquence, and stuck with the choicest flowers 
picked from the Muses' garden ; whereas you also 
please to write that you admire my great travels, 
my strenuous endeavours, at all times and in all 
places, to accumulate knowledge, my active laying 
hold upon all occasions, and on every handle that 
might (with reputation) advantage either my wit 
or fortune — these high gallant strains of expres- 
sions, I confess, transcend my merit, and are a 
garment too gaudy for me to put on, yet I will 
lay it up among my best relics, whereof I have 
divers sent me of this kind. And whereas, in 
publishing these epistles at this time you please 
to say that I have done like Hezekiah when he 
showed his treasures to the Babylonians, that I 
have discovered my riches to thieves who will bind 



OF JAMES HOWELL 159 

me fast and share my goods : to this I answer 
that if those innocent letters (for I know none 
of them but is such) fall among such thieves they 
will have no great prize to carry away, it will be 
but petty larceny. I am already, God wot, bound 
fast enough, having been a long time cooped up 
between these walls, bereft of all my means of 
subsistence and employment. Nor do I know 
wherefore I am here unless it be for my sins. 
For I bear as upright a heart to my King and coun- 
try, I am as conformable and well affected to the 
government of this land, especially to the High 
Court of Parliament, as any one whatsoever that 
breathes air under this meridian : I will except 
none. And for my religion I defy any creature 
betwixt heaven and earth that will say that I am 
not a true English Protestant. I have from time 
to time employed divers of my best friends to get 
my liberty, at leastwise leave to go abroad upon 
bail (for I do not expect, as you please also to 
believe in your letter, to be delivered hence, as 
St Peter was, by miracle), but nothing will yet pre- 
vail. 

To conclude, I do acknowledge in the highest 
way of recognition the free and noble proffer you 
please to make me of your endeavours to pull 
me out of this doleful sepulchre, wherein you say 
I am entombed alive. I am no less obliged to you 
for the opinion I find you have of my weak abil- 
ities, which you pleased to wish heartily may be no 
longer eclipsed. I am not in despair, but a day 



i6o FAMILIAR LETTERS 

will shine that may afford me opportunity to im- 
prove this good opinion of yours (which I value 
at a high rate) and let the world know how much 
I am, sir, your real and ready servitor, 

J.H. 
Fleet, 5 May 1645. 

LXII 

To Mr T, v., at Brussels 

My Dear Tom, 

WHO would have thought poor England had 
been brought to this pass ? Could it ever 
have entered into the imagination of man that the 
scheme and whole frame of so ancient and well- 
moulded a government should be so suddenly 
struck off the hinges, quite out of joint, and 
tumbled into such a horrid confusion ? Who would 
have held it possible that to fly from Babylon we 
should fall into such a babel ? That to avoid 
superstition some people should be brought to 
belch out such horrid profaneness as to call the 
temples of God the tabernacles of Satan ? the 
Lord's Supper a two-penny ordinary ? to make 
the communion table a manger and the font a 
trough to water their horses in ? to term the 
white decent robe of the presbyter the whore's 
smock ? the pipes, through which nothing came but 
holy anthems and hymns the devil's bagpipes ? 
the liturgy of the Church, though extracted most 



OF JAMES HOWELL i6i 

of it out of the sacred text, called by some another 
kind of Alcoran ; by others raw porridge ; by 
some a piece forged in hell ? Who would have 
thought to have seen in England the churches 
shut and the shops open upon Christmas Day ? 
Could any soul have imagined that this isle would 
have produced such monsters as to rejoice at the 
Turk's good successes against Christians, and wish 
he were in the midst of Rome? Who would 
have dreamt ten years since, when Archbishop 
Laud did ride in state through London streets 
accompanying my Lord of London to be sworn 
Lord High Treasurer of England, that the mitre 
should have now come to such a scorn, to such a 
national kind of hatred, as to put the whole island 
in a combustion, which makes me call to memory 
a saying of the Earl of Kildare in Ireland, in the 
reign of Henry VIII, which earl, having a deadly 
feud with the Bishop of Cassiles, burnt a church 
belonging to that diocese, and being asked, upon 
his examination before the Lord Deputy at the 
Castle of Dublin, why he had committed such 
a horrid sacrilege as to burn God's church, he 
answered, " I had never burnt the church unless 
I had thought the bishop had been in it." Lastly, 
who would have imagined that the excise would 
have taken footing here ? A word I remember in 
the last Parliament save one, so odious, that when 
Sir D. Carleton, then Secretary of State, did but 
name it in the House of Commons, he was like to 
be sent to the Tower, although he named it to no 



i62 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

ill sense but to show what advantage of happiness 
the people of England had over nations, having 
neither the gabells of Italy, the taillies of France, 
or the excise of Holland laid upon them, yet upon 
this he was suddenly interrupted, and called to 
the bar. Such a strange metamorphosis poor Eng- 
land is now come unto, and I am afraid our mis- 
eries are not come to their height, but the longest 
shadows stay till the evening. 

The freshest news that I can write unto you is 
that the Kentish knight of your acquaintance 
who I wrote in my last had an apostasy in his 
brain, died suddenly this week of an imposthume 
in his breast, as he was reading a pamphlet of his 
own that came from the press, wherein he showed 
a great mind to be nibbling with my trees ; but he 
only showed his teeth, for he could not bite them 
to any purpose. 

William Roe is returned from the wars, but he 
is grown lame in one of his arms, so he hath no 
mind to bear arms any more. He confesseth 
himself to be an egregious fool to leave his mer- 
cership and go to be a musketeer. It made me 
think upon the tale of the Gallego in Spain, who 
in the civil wars against Arragon, being in the field 
he was shot in the forehead, and being carried 
away to a tent, the surgeon searched his wound 
and found it mortal, so he advised him to send for 
his confessor, for he was no man for this world, in 
regard the brain was touched. The soldier wished 
him to search it again, which he did, and told him 



OF JAMES HOWELL 163 

that he found he was hurt in the brain and could 
not possibly escape ; whereupon the Gallego fell 
into a chafe, and said he lied; for he had no brain 
at all, porque se tuviera sesso, nunca huiera venido 
a est a guerra, for if I had had any brain, I 
would never have come to this war. All your 
friends here are well, except the maimed soldier, 
and remember you often, especially Sir J. Brown, 
a good gallant gentleman, who never forgets any 
who deserve to have a place in his memory. 
Farewell, my dear Tom, and God send you better 
days than we have here, for I wish you as much 
happiness as possibly man can have. I wish your 
mornings may be good, your noons better, your 
evenings and nights best of all. I wish your 
sorrows may be short, your joys lasting, and all 
your desires end in success. Let me hear once 
more from you before you remove thence, and tell 
me how the squares go in Flanders. — So I rest, 
your entirely affectionate servitor, J. H. 

Fleet, 3 August 1644. 

LXIII 

To His Majesty y at Oxon 

1 PROSTRATE this paper at Your Majesty's 
feet, hoping it may find way thence to your 
eyes, and so descend to your royal heart. 

The foreign Minister of State, by whose con- 
veyance this comes, did lately intimate unto me. 



1 64 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

that among divers things which go abroad under 
my name reflecting upon the times, there are 
some which are not so well taken, Your Majesty 
being informed that they discover a spirit of in- 
difference and lukewarm ness in the author. This 
added much to the weight of my present suf- 
frances, and exceedingly embittered the sense of 
them unto me, being no other than a corrosive to 
one already in a hectic condition. I must confess 
that some of them were more moderate than 
others ; yet (most humbly under favour) there 
were none of them but displayed the heart of a 
constant, true, loyal subject, and as divers of those 
who are most zealous to Your Majesty's service 
told me, they had the good success to rectify mul- 
titudes of people in their opinion of some things ; 
insomuch that I am not only conscious, but 
most confident that none of them could tend to 
Your Majesty's disservice any way imaginable. 
Therefore I humbly beseech that Your Majesty 
would vouchsafe to conceive of me accordingly, 
and of one who by this recluse, passive condition 
hath his share of this hideous storm ; yet he is in 
assurance, rather than hopes, that though divers 
cross winds have blown, these times will bring in 
better at last. There have been divers of your 
royal progenitors who have had as shrewd shocks; 
and it is well known how the next transmarine 
kings have been brought to lower ebbs. At this 
very day he of Spain is in a far worse condition, 
being in the midst of two sorts of people (the 



OF JAMES HOWELL 165 

Catalain and Portuguese), which were lately his 
vassals, but now have torn his seals, renounced all 
bonds of allegiance, and are in actual hostility 
against him. This great city I may say is like a 
chessboard, chequered, inlaid with white and black 
spots, though I believe the white are more in num- 
ber; and Your Majesty's countenance by returning 
to your great Council and your Court at White- 
hall would quickly turn them all white. That Al- 
mighty Majesty who useth to draw light out of 
darkness, and strength out of weakness, making 
man's extremity His opportunity, preserve and 
prosper Your Majesty according to the prayers 
early and late of Your Majesty's most loyal sub- 
ject, servant and martyr, Howel. 

Fleet, 3 September 1 644. 

LXIV 

To E. Ben/owes, Esq,, upon the Receipt of a 
Table of Exquisite Latin Poems 

I THANK you in a very high degree for that 
precious table of poems you pleased to send 
me. When I had well viewed them, I thought 
upon that famous table of proportion which Pto- 
lemy is recorded by Aristaeus to have sent Eliezar 
to Jerusalem, which was counted a stupendous 
piece of art and the wonderment of those times. 
What the curiosity of that table was I have not 
read, but I believe it consisted in extern mechan- 



i66 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

ical artifice only. The beauty of your table is of 
a far more noble extraction, being a pure spiritual 
work, so that it may be called the table of your 
soul, in confirmation of the opinion of that divine, 
though pagan philosopher, the high-winged Plato, 
who fancied that our souls at the first infusion 
were as so many tables, they were abrasae tabulae^ 
and that all our future knowledge was but a re- 
miniscence. But under favour, the rich and elab- 
orate poems which so loudly echo out your worth 
and ingenuity deserve a far more lasting monu- 
ment to preserve them from the injury of time 
than such a slender board, they deserve to be 
engraven in such durable dainty stuff that may be 
fit to hang up in the Temple of Apollo. Your 
*' Echo *' deserves to dwell in some marble or 
porphyry grotto cut about Parnassus Mount 
near the source of Helicon, rather than upon such 
a slight superficies. 

I much thank you for your visits, and other fair 
respects you show me, especially that you have 
enlarged my quarters among these melancholy 
walls by sending me a whole isle to walk in, I 
mean that delicate purple island I received from 
you, where I met with Apollo himself and all his 
daughters, with other excellent society. I stumble 
also there often upon myself, and grow better 
acquainted with what I have within me and with- 
out me, insomuch that you could not make choice 
of a fitter ground for a prisoner, as I am, to pass 
over, than of that " purple isle," that " isle of man " 



OF JAMES HOWELL 167 

you sent me, which, as the ingenious author hath 
made it is a far more dainty soil than that Scarlet 
Island which lies near the Baltic Sea. 

I remain still wind-bound in this Fleet ; when 
the weather mends and the wind sits that I may 
launch forth, I will repay you your visits, and be 
ready to correspond with you in the reciprocation 
of any other offices of friendship, for I am, sir, 
your affectionate servitor, J. H. 

Fleet, 25 August 1645. 



LXV 

To my Honourable Lady the Lady A. Smith 

WHEREAS you were pleased lately to ask 
leave, you may now take authority to 
command me. And did I know any of the facul- 
ties of my mind or limbs of my body that were 
not willing to serve you, I would utterly renounce 
them ; they should be no more mine, at least, I 
should not like them near so well ; but I shall not 
be put to that, for I sensibly find that by a natural 
propensity they are all most ready to obey you, 
and to stir at the least beck of your commands 
as iron moves towards the loadstone. Therefore, 
madam, if you bid me go I will run, if you bid 
me run, I '11 fly (if I can) upon your errand. But 
I must stay till I can get my heels at liberty from 
among these walls, till when, I am as perfectly as 



i68 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

man can be, madam, your most obedient humble 
servitor, J. H. 

Fleet, 5 May 1645. 

LXVI 

To Master G. Stone 

1 HEARTILY rejoice with the rest of your 
friends that you are safely returned from your 
travels, especially that you have made so good re- 
turns of the time of your travel, being, as I under- 
stand, come home freighted with observations and 
languages. Your father tells me that he finds you 
are so wedded to the Italian and French that you 
utterly neglect the Latin tongue. That *s not well ; 
though you have learned to play at backgammon 
you must not forget Irish, which is a more serious 
and solid game. But I know you are so discreet 
in the course and method of your studies, that you 
will make the daughters to wait upon their mother, 
and love still your old friend. To truck the Latin 
for any other vulgar language is but an ill barter, 
it is as bad as that which Glaucus made with Dio- 
medes when he parted with his golden arms for 
brazen ones. The proceeds of this exchange will 
come far short of any gentleman's expectations, 
though happily it may prove advantageous to 
a merchant, to whom common languages are more 
useful. I am big with desire to meet you, and to 
mingle a day's discourse with you, if not two : how 



OF JAMES HOWELL 169 

you escaped the claws of the Inquisition, whereun to 
I understand you were like to fall, and of other 
traverses of your peregrination. Farewell, my 
very precious Stone, and believe it, the least grain 
of those high respects you please to profess unto 
me is not lost, but answered with so many carats. 
.So I rest, your most affectionate servitor, J. H. 
Westminster, 30 November 1635. 

LXVII 

ro Mr J. J., Esq. 

I RECEIVED those sparkles of piety you 
pleased to send me in a manuscript, and where- 
as you favour me with a desire of my opinion con- 
cerning the publishing of them, sir, I must confess 
that I found among them many most fervent 
and flexanimous strains of devotion. I found 
some prayers so piercing and powerful that they 
are able to invade heaven, and take it by violence, 
if the heart doth its office as well as the tongue. 
But, sir, you must give me leave (and for this 
leave you shall have authority to deal with me in 
such a case) to tell you that whereas they consist 
only of requests, being all supplicatory prayers, 
you should do well to intersperse among them 
some eucharistical ejaculations and doxologies, 
some oblations of thankfulness ; we should not be 
always whining in a puling, petitionary way (which 
is the tone of the time now in fashion) before 



I70 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

the gates of heaven with our fingers in our eyes, 
but we should lay our hands upon our hearts, and 
break into raptures of joy and praise. A soul thus 
elevated is the most pleasing sacrifice that can be 
offered to God Almighty ; it is the best sort of 
incense. Prayer causeth the first shower of rain, 
but praise brings down the second ; the one fruc- 
tifieth the earth, the other makes the hills to skip. 
All prayers aim at our own ends and interests, but 
praise proceeds from the pure motions of love and 
gratitude, having no other object but the glory of 
God ; that soul which rightly dischargeth this part 
of devotion may be said to do the duty of an angel 
upon earth. Among other attributes of God, pre- 
science or foreknowledge is one, for He knows 
our thoughts, our desires, our wants, long before 
we propound them. And this is not only one of 
His attributes, but prerogative royal, therefore, to 
use so many iterations, inculcatings and tautolo- 
gies, as it is no good manners in moral philosophy, 
no more is it in divinity ; it argues a pusillani- 
mous and mistrustful soul. Of the two, I had 
rather be over-long in praise than prayer ; yet I 
would be careful it should be free from any phar- 
isaical babbling. Prayer compared with praise is 
but a fuliginous smoke issuing from the sense of 
sin and human infirmities ; praises are the true 
clear sparkles of piety, and sooner fly upwards. 

Thus have I been free with you in delivering 
my opinion touching that piece of devotion you 
sent me, whereunto I add my humble thanks to 



OF JAMES HOWELL 171 

you for the perusal of it. — So I am yours most 
ready to be commanded, 

J. H. 

Fleet, I September 1645. 

LXVIII 

To Captain Willia?n Bridges^ in Amsterdam 

My Noble Captain, 

I HAD yours of the tenth current, and besides 
your avisos, I must thank you for those rich 
flourishes wherewith your letter was embroidered 
everywhere. The news under this clime is, that 
they have mutinied lately in divers places about 
the excise, a bird that was first hatched there 
amongst you ; here in London the tumult came to 
that height that they burnt down to the ground 
the excise house in Smithfield, but now all is 
quiet again. God grant our excise here have not 
the same fortune as yours there, to become per- 
petual ; or as that new gabell of Orleans, which 
began in the time of the League, which continu- 
eth to this day, notwithstanding the cause ceased 
about threescore years since. Touching this, I re- 
member a pleasant tale that is recorded of Henry 
the Great, who some years after peace was estab- 
lished throughout all the whole body of France, 
going to his own town of Orleans, the citizens 
petitioned him that His Majesty would be 
pleased to abolish that new tax. The King asked 



172 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

who had imposed it upon them. They answered, 
Monsieur de la Chatre (during the civil wars of 
the League), who was now dead. The King re- 
plied, " Monsieur de la Chatre vous a ligue, qu'il 
vous desligue" (Monsieur de la Chatre leagued 
you, let him then unleague you for my part). 
Now that we have a kind of peace the gaols are 
full of soldiers, and some gentlemen's sons of 
quality suffer daily. The last week Judge Rives 
condemned four in your country at Maidstone 
Assizes, but he went out of the world before them 
though they were executed four days after. You 
know the saying in France, that " la guerre fait 
les latrons, et la paix les amene au gibet " (War 
makes thieves, and peace brings them to the gal- 
lows). I lie still here in limbo, in limbo innocen- 
tiuryiy though not in limbo infantum^ and I know 
not upon what star to cast this misfortune. 
Others are here for their good conditions, but 
I am here for my good qualities, as your cousin 
Fortescue jeered me not long since. I know none 
I have, unless it be to love you, which I would 
continue to do, though I tugged at an oar in 
a galley, much more as I walk in the galleries of 
this Fleet. In this resolution I rest your most 
affectionate servitor, 

J.H. 

Fleet, 2 September 1645. 



OF JAMES HOWELL 173 

LXIX 

To Mr W, B.y at Grundesburgh 

Gentle Sir, 

YOURS of the seventh I received yesternight, 
and read over with no vulgar delight ; in the 
perusal of it methought to have discerned a gentle 
strife betwixt the fair respects you pleased to show 
me therein, and your ingenuity in expressing them, 
which should have superiority ; so that I knew not 
to which of the two I should adjudge the palm. 

If you continue to wrap up our young acquaint- 
ance, which you say is but yet in fasciis, in such 
warm choice swaddlings, it will quickly grow up to 
maturity, and for my part I shall not be wanting 
to contribute that reciprocal nourishment which is 
due from me. 

Whereas you please to magnify some pieces of 
mine, and that you seem to spy the Muses perching 
upon my trees, I fear it is but deceptio visuSy for 
they are but satyrs, or happily some of the home- 
lier sort of wood-nymphs ; the Muses have choicer 
walks for their recreation. 

Sir, I must thank you for the visit you vouch- 
safed me in this simple cell, and whereas you please 
to call it the cabinet that holds the jewel of our 
times, you may rather term it a wicker casket that 
keeps a jet ring, or a horn lantern that holds a 
small taper of coarse wax. I hope this taper shall 



174 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

not extinguish here, and if it may afford you any 
light, either from hence or hereafter, I should be 
glad to impart it in a plentiful proportion, because 
I am, sir, your most affectionate friend to serve 
you, 

J. H. 
Fleet, I July 164.6. 

LXX 

To y. W.y of Grafs Inn, Esquire 

1WAS yours before in a high degree of affection, 
but now I am much more yours since I perused 
that parcel of choice epistles you sent me ; they 
discover in you a knowing and a candid clear soul, 
for familiar letters are the keys of the mind ; they 
open all the boxes of one*s breast, all the cells of 
the brain, and truly set forth the inward man ; nor 
can the pencil so lively represent the face, as the 
pen can do the fancy. I much thank you that you 
would please to impart them unto your most faith- 
ful servitor, 

J.H. 
Fleet, I April 1645. 



OF JAMES HOWELL 175 

LXXI 

To Captain T. P. ; from Madrid 

Captain Don Tomas, 

COULD I write my love unto you, with a ray 
of the sun, as once Aurelius, the Roman 
Emperor, wished to a friend of his, you know this 
clear horizon of Spain could afford me plenty, 
which cannot be had so constantly all the seasons 
of the year in your cloudy clime of England. 
Apollo with you makes not himself so common, he 
keeps more state, and doth not show his face and 
shoot his beams so frequently as he doth here, where 
it is Sunday all the year. I thank you a thousand 
times for what you sent by Mr Gresley, and that 
you let me know how the pulse of the times beats 
with you. I find you cast not your eyes so much 
southward as you were used to do towards us here, 
and when you look this way you cast a cloudy coun- 
tenance with threatening looks, which makes me 
apprehend some fear that it will not be safe for 
me to be longer under this meridian. Before I 
part I will be careful to send you those things you 
write for by some of my Lord Ambassador Aston's 
gentlemen. I cannot yet get that grammar which 
was made for the Constable of Castile, who you 
know was born dumb, wherein an art is invented 
to speak with the hands only, to carry the alpha- 
bet upon one's joints and at his fingers' ends, which 



176 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

may be learned without any great difficulty by any 
mean capacity, and whereby one may discourse and 
deliver the conceptions of his mind without ever 
wagging of his tongue, provided there be a recipro- 
cal knowledge and co-understanding of the art 
betwixt the parties, and it is a very ingenious piece 
of invention. I thank you for the copy of verses 
you sent me glancing upon the times. I was lately 
perusing some of the Spanish poets here, and 
lighted upon two epigrams, or epitaphs more 
properly, upon our Henry the Eighth, and upon 
his daughter Queen Elizabeth, which in requital 
I thought worth the sending you. 

A Henrique Octavo, Rey de Ingalatierra 

Mas de esta losa fria 

Cubre, Henrique, tu valor, 
De una muger el amor, 
Y de un error la porfia; 

Como cupo en tu grandeza, 
Dezidme enganado Ingles, 
Querer una muger a los pies, 
Ser de la yglesia cabesa ? 

Prosed thus in English, for I had no time to 
put it on feet: 

"O Henry, more than this cold pavement 
covers thy worth, the love of a woman and the 
pertinacy of error. How could it subsist with 
thy greatness, tell me, O cozened Englishman, to 
cast thyself at a woman's feet, and yet to be head 
of the Church?" That upon Queen Elizabeth 
was this : 



OF JAMES HOWELL 177 

De Isabela, Reyna de Ingalatierra 

Aqui yaze lesabel, 

Aquila nueva Athalia, 
Del oro Antartico harpia, 
Del mar incendio cruel : 

Aqui el ingenio, mas dino 

De loor que ha tenido el suelo. 

Si para llegar al cielo 

No huiera errado el camino. 

" Here lies Jezabel, here lies the new Athalia, 
the harpy of the western gold, the cruel firebrand 
of the sea : here lies a wit the most worthy of 
fame which the earth had, if to arrive to heaven 
she had not missed her way." 

You cannot blame the Spaniard to be satirical 
against Queen Elizabeth, for he never speaks of 
her but he fetcheth a shrink in the shoulder. 
Since I have begun, I will go on with as witty an 
anagram as I have heard or read, which a gentle- 
man lately made upon his own name Tomas and 
a nun called Maria, for she was his devotee. 
The occasion was, that going one evening to dis- 
course with her at the grate, he wrung her by the 
hand, and joined both their names in this anagram, 
" To Maria mas " (I would take more). I know 
I shall not need to expound it to you. Here- 
unto I will add a strong and deep-fetched char- 
acter, as I think you will confess when you 
have read it, that one made in this court of a 
courtesan : 



178 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

Eres puta tan artera 

Qu'en el vientre de tu madre, 
Tu tuuistes de manera 

Que te cavalgue el padre. 

To this I will join that which was made of de 
Vaca, husband to Jusepe de Vaca, the famous 
comedian, who came upon the stage with a cloak 
lined with black plush and a great chain about 
his neck, whereupon the Duke of Medina broke 
into these witty lines : 

Con tant felpa en la capa 

Y tanta cadena de oro. 
El marido de la Vaca 

Que puede ser sino toro ? 

The conclusion of this rambling letter shall be 
a rhyme of certain hard throaty words which I was 
taught lately, and they are accounted the difficult- 
est in all the whole Castilian language, insomuch 
that he who is able to pronounce them is accounted 
" buen Romancista" (a good speaker of Spanish) : 
" Abeia y oueia y piedra que rabeia, pendola tras 
oreia, y lugar en la ygreia, dessea a su hijo la 
vieia '* (A bee and a sheep, a mill, a jewel in the 
ear, and a place in the Church, the old woman de- 
sires her son). No more now, but that I am, and 
will ever be, my noble captain, in the front of your 
most affectionate servitors, 

J.H. 

Madrid, i August 1622. 



OF JAMES HOWELL 179 

LXXII 

To Sir Tho. Luke^ Knight 

HAD you traversed all the world over, espe- 
cially those large continents and Christian 
countries which you have so exactly surveyed, and 
whence you have brought over with you such 
useful observations and languages, you could not 
have lighted upon a choicer piece of womankind 
for your wife. The earth could not have afforded 
a lady, that by her discretion and sweetness could 
better quadrate with your disposition. As I 
heartily congratulate your happiness in this par- 
ticular, so I would desire you to know that I did 
no ill offices towards the advancement of the 
work upon occasion of some discourse with my 
Lord George of Rutland not long before at Ham- 
bledon. 

My thoughts are now puzzled about my voy- 
age to the Baltic Sea upon the King's service, 
otherwise I would have ventured upon an epitha- 
lamium, for there is matter rich enough to work 
upon ; and now that you have made an end of 
wooing, I could wish you had made an end of 
wrangling. I mean of lawing, especially with your 
mother, who hath such resolution where she 
once takes. Law is not only a pickpurse, but a 
purgatory. You know the saying they have in 
France: " Les plaideurs sont les oyseaux, le palais 



i8o FAMILIAR LETTERS 

le Champ, les juges les rets, les avocats les rats, les 
procureurs les souris de Testat " (The poor clients 
are the birds, Westminster Hall the field, the 
judge the net, the lawyer the rats, the attorneys 
the mice of the commonwealth). I believe this say- 
ing was spoken by an angry client. For my part, 
I like his resolution who said he would never use 
lawyer nor physician but upon urgent necessity. 
I will conclude with this rhyme — 

Pouvre playdeur, 

J' ay gran pitie de ta douleur. 



J. H. 



Your most affectionate servitor, 
Westminster, i May 1629. 

LXXIII 

To Mr R. K, 

YOU and I are upon a journey, though bound 
for several places — I for Hamburg, you 
for your last home, as I understand by Doctor 
Baskervill, who tells me, much to my grief, that 
this hectical disease will not suffer you to be long 
amongst us. I know by some experiments which 
I have had of you, you have such a noble soul 
within you that will not be daunted by those 
natural apprehensions which death doth usually 
carry along with it among vulgar spirits. I do not 
think that you fear death as much now, though it 



OF JAMES HOWELL i8i 

be to some {^^o^epcov ^ojSepoTaTov), as you did to 
go in the dark when you were a child. You have 
had a fair time to prepare yourself. God give you a 
boon voyage to the haven you are bound for (which 
1 doubt not will be heaven) and me the grace 
to follow, when I have passed the boisterous sea 
and swelling billows of this tumultuary life, wherein 
I have already shot divers dangerous gulfs, passed 
over some quicksands, rocks and sundry ill-favoured 
reaches. While others sail in the sleeve of fortune 
you and I have eaten a great deal of salt together, 
and spent much oil in the communication of our 
studies by literal correspondence and otherwise, 
both in verse and prose. Therefore I will take 
my last leave of you now in these few stanzas. 

1 . Weak, crazy mortal, why dost fear 
To leave this earthly hemisphere ? 
Where all delights away do pass 
Like thy effigies in a glass. 

Each thing beneath the moon is frail and fickle. 
Death sweeps away what time cuts with his sickle. 

2. This life, at best, is but an inn. 
And we the passengers, wherein 
The cloth is laid to some before 
They peep out of dame nature's door. 

And warm lodgings left ; others there are 
Must trudge to find a room, and shift for fare. 

3. This life 's, at longest, but one day; 
He who in youth posts hence away. 
Leaves us i' the morn; he who hath run 
His race till manhood, parts at noon; 



1 82 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

And who at seventy odd forsakes this light. 
He may be said to take his leave at night, 

4. One past maketh up the prince and peasant. 
Though one eat roots, the other phea-sant. 
They nothing differ in the stuff. 
But both extinguish like a snuff: 
Why then, fond man, should thy soul take dismay. 
To sally out of these gross walls of clay ? 

And now my dear friend, adieu, and live eternally 
in that world of endless bliss, where you shall have 
knowledge as well as all things else commensurate 
to your desires, where you shall clearly see the real 
causes and perfect truth of what we argue with that 
incertitude, and beat our brains about here below. 
Yet though you be gone hence, you shall never die 
in the memory of your 

J.H. 

Westminster, 15 August 1630. 

LXXIV 

To Sir R. G.y Knight and Bar. 

Noble Sir, 

1HAD yours upon Maundy Thursday late, 
and the reason that suspended my answer till 
now was, that the season engaged me to sequester 
my thoughts from my wonted negotiations to con- 
template the work of man's redemption, so great, 
that were it cast in counter-balance with his creation. 



OF JAMES HOWELL 183 

it would outpoise it: for I summoned all my in- 
tellectuals to meditate upon those passions, upon 
those pangs, upon that despicable and most dolor- 
ous death, upon that cross whereon my Saviour 
suffered, which was the first Christian altar that 
ever was, and I doubt that he will never have 
benefit of the sacrifice who hates the harmless re- 
membrance of the altar whereon it was offered. I 
applied my memory to fasten upon it, my under- 
standing to comprehend it, my will to embrace it : 
from these three faculties methought I found by 
the mediation of the fancy some beams of love 
gently gliding down from the head to the heart, and 
inflaming all my affections. If the human soul had 
far more powers than the philosophers afford her, 
if she had as many faculties within the head as 
there be hairs without, the speculation of this mys- 
tery would find work enough for them all. Truly, 
the more I screw up my spirits to reach it the 
more I am swallowed in a gulf of admiration, and 
of a thousand imperfect notions, which makes me 
ever and anon to quarrel v/ith my soul that she 
cannot lay hold on her Saviour, much more my 
heart, that my purest affections cannot hug him 
as much as I would. 

They have a custom beyond the seas (and I could 
wish it were the worst custom they had) that during 
the Passion Week divers of their greatest princes 
and ladies will betake themselves to some convent 
or reclused house to wean themselves from all 
worldly encumbrances, and converse only with 



1 84 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

heaven, with performance of some kind of penances, 
all the week long. A worthy gentleman that came 
lately from Italy told me that the Count of Byron, 
now marshal of France, having been long persecuted 
by Cardinal Richelieu, put himself so into a mon- 
astery, and the next day news was brought him of 
the cardinars death, which I believe made him spend 
the rest of the week with the more devotion in 
that way. France brags that our Saviour had His 
face turned towards her when He was upon the 
cross ; there is more cause to think that it was 
towards this island, in regard the rays of Christian- 
ity first reverberated upon her, her King being 
Christian 400 years before him of France (as 
all historians concur), notwithstanding that he 
arrogates to himself the title of the First Son of 
the Church. 

Let this serve for part of my apology. The day 
following, my Saviour being in the grave, I had 
no list to look much abroad, but continued my 
retiredness ; there was another reason also why, 
because I intended to take the holy sacrament the 
Sunday ensuing; which is an act of the greatest 
consolation and consequence that possibly a Chris- 
tian can be capable of: it imports him so much 
that he is made or marred by it; it tends to his 
damnation or salvation to help him up to heaven, 
or tumble him down headlong to hell. Therefore 
it behoves a man to prepare and recollect himself, 
to winnow his thoughts from the chaff and tares 
of the world beforehand. This then took up a 



OF JAMES HOWELL 185 

good part of that day to provide myself a wedding 
garment, that I might be a fit guest at so precious 
a banquet, so precious that manna and angels' 
food are but coarse viands in comparison of it. 

I hope that this excuse will be of such validity 
that it may procure my pardon for not correspond- 
ing with you this last week. I am now as freely 
as formerly, your most ready and humble servitor, 

J.H. 

Fleet, 30 April 164.6, 



LXXV 

To Mr R. Howard 

THERE is a saying that carrieth with it a 
great deal of caution, "From him whom I 
trust God defend me, for from him whom I trust 
not, I will defend myself." There be sundry sorts 
of trusts, but that of a secret is one of the great- 
est ; I trusted T. P. with a weighty one, conjuring 
him that it should not take air and go abroad, 
which was not done according to the rules and 
religion of friendship, but it went out of him the 
very next day. Though the inconvenience may 
be mine, yet the reproach is his, nor would I ex- 
change my damage for his disgrace ; I would wish 
you take heed of him, for he is such as the comic 
poet speaks o^yplenus rimarum^ he is full of chinks, 
he can hold nothing. You know a secret is too 
much for one, too little for three, and enough for 



1 86 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

two, but Tom must be none of those two, unless 
there were a trick to solder up his mouth. If he 
had committed a secret to me, and enjoined me 
silence, and I had promised it, though I had been 
shut up in Perillus' brazen bull, I should not have 
bellowed it out ; I find it now true, that he who 
discovers his secrets to another sells him his lib- 
erty and becomes his slave. Well, I shall be 
warier hereafter and learn more wit. In the in- 
terim the best satisfaction I can give myself is to 
expunge him quite ex albo amicorum^ to raze him 
out of the catalogue of my friends (though I can- 
not of my acquaintance), where your name is in- 
serted in great golden characters. I will endeavour 
to lose the memory of him, and that my thoughts 
may never run more upon the fashion of his face, 
which you know he hath no cause to brag of. I 
hate such blateroons 

Odi illos seu claustra Erebi 



I thought good to give you this little mot of 
advice, because the times are ticklish, of com- 
mitting secrets to any, though not to your most 
affectionate friend to serve you, 

J. H. 

From the Fleet, 14 February 1647. 



OF JAMES HOWELL 187 

LXXVI 
To my Hon. Friend^ Mr £. P., at Paris 

LET me never sally hence, from among these 
disconsolate walls, if the literal correspond- 
ence you please to hold so punctually with me be 
not one of the greatest solaces I have had in this 
sad condition. For I find so much salt, such 
endearments and flourishes, such a gallantry and 
neatness in your lines, that you may give the law 
of lettering to all the world. I had this week a 
twin of yours, of the loth and 15th current. I am 
sorry to hear of your aches, and so often indis- 
position there. It may be very well (as you say) 
that the air of that dirty town doth not agree with 
you because you speak Spanish, which language 
you know is used to be breathed out under a 
clearer clime. I am sure it agrees not with the 
sweet breezes of peace, for it is you there that 
would keep poor Christendom in perpetual whirl- 
winds of wars. But I fear that while France sets 
all wheels a-going, and stirs all the cacodaemons 
of hell to pull down the House of Austria, she 
may chance at last to pull it upon her own head. 
I am sorry to understand what they write from 
Venice this week, that there is a discovery made 
in Italy how France had a hand to bring in the 
Turk to invade the territories of St Mark and 
puzzle the peace of Italy. I want faith to believe 



1 88 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

it yet. Nor can I entertain in my breast any such 
conceit of the Most Christian .King, and First Son 
of the Church as he terms himself. Yet I pray 
in your next to pull this thorn out of my thoughts, 
and tell me whether one may give any credit to 
this report. 

We are now Scot-free as touching the northern 
army, for our dear brethren have trussed up their 
baggage, and put the Tweed betwixt us and them, 
once again. Dear indeed, for they have cost us 
first and last above nineteen hundred thousand 
pounds sterling, which amounts to near eight 
millions of crowns with you there. Yet if reports 
be true they left behind them more than they lost, 
if you go to number of men, which will be a brave 
race of mestisos hereafter, who may chance meet 
their fathers in the field and kill them unwittingly. 
He will be a wise child that knows his right father. 
Here we are like to have four-and-twenty seas 
emptied shortly, and some do hope to find abund- 
ance of treasure in the bottom of them, as no doubt 
they will, but many doubt that it will prove but 
aurum I'olosanum to the finders. God grant that 
from Acreans we turn not to be Arians. The 
Earl of Strafford was accounted by his very ene- 
mies to have an extraordinary talent of judgment 
and parts (though they say he wanted moderation), 
and one of the prime precepts he left his son upon 
the scaffold was that he should not meddle with 
Church-lands, for they would prove a canker to his 
estate. Here are started up some great knowing 



OF JAMES HOWELL 189 

men lately that can show the very track by which 
our Saviour went to hell. They will tell you pre- 
cisely whose names are written in the Book of Life, 
whose not. God deliver us from spiritual pride, 
which of all sorts is the most dangerous. Here 
are also notable star-gazers, who obtrude on the 
world such confident bold predictions, and are so 
familiar with heavenly bodies that Ptolemy and 
Tycho Brahe were ninnies to them. We have 
likewise multitudes of witches among us, for in 
Essex and Suffolk there were above two hundred 
indicted within these two years, and above the one- 
half of them executed, more, I may well say, than 
ever this island bred since the Creation. I speak 
it with horror. God guard us from the devil, for 
I think he was never so busy upon any part of 
the earth that was enlightened with the beams of 
Christianity. Nor do I wonder at it, for there is 
never a cross left to frighten him away. Edinburgh, 
I hear, is fallen into a relapse of the plague. The 
last they had raged so violently that the fortieth 
man or woman lives not of those that dwelt there 
four years since. But it is all peopled with new 
faces. Don and Hans, I hear, are absolutely 
accorded. Nor do I believe that all the artifices 
of policy that you use there can hinder the peace, 
though they may puzzle it for a while. If it be so 
the people which button their doublets upward will 
be better able to deal with you there. 

Much notice is taken that you go on there too 
fast in your acquests, and now that the eagle's 



I90 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

wings are pretty well clipped. It is time to look 
that your fleur-de-lys grow not too rank, and 
spread too wide. Whereas you desire to know 
how it fares with your master, I must tell you that 
like the glorious sun, he is still in his own orb, 
though clouded for a time that he cannot show the 
beams of majesty with that lustre he was wont to 
do. Never did cavalier woo fair lady as he woos 
the Parliament to a peace; it is much the head 
should so stoop to the members. 

Farewell, my noble friend, cheer up, and reserve 
yourself for better days ; take our royal master 
for your pattern, who for his longanimity, patience, 
courage and constancy is admired of all the world, 
and in a passive way of fortitude hath outgone all 
the nine worthies. If the cedar be so weather- 
beaten, we poor shrubs must not murmur to bear 
part of the storm. I have had my share and I 
know you want not yours. The stars may change 
their aspects, and we may live to see the sun 
again in his full meridian. In the interim come 
what will, I am, entirely yours, 

J. H. 

¥\ttty February 3, 1646. 



OF JAMES HOWELL 191 

LXXVII 

To Sir K. D., at Rome 

THOUGH you know well that in the carriage 
and course of my rambling life I had occa- 
sion to be, as the Dutchman saith, a landloper, 
and to see much of the world abroad, yet methinks 
I have travelled more since I have been immured 
and martyred betwixt these walls than ever I did 
before, for I have travelled the Isle of Man, I 
mean this little world, which I have carried about 
me and within me so many years, for, as the wis- 
est of pagan philosophers said, that the greatest 
learning was the knowledge of one's self, to be 
his own geometrician. If one do so he need not 
gad abroad to see fashions ; he shall find enough 
at home ; he shall hourly meet with new fancies, 
new humours, new passions within doors. 

This travelling over of one's self is one of the 
paths that lead a man to Paradise. It is true that 
it is a dirty and dangerous one, for it is thick set 
with extravagant desires, irregular affections and 
concupiscences, which are but odd comrades, and 
oftentimes do lie in ambush to cut our throats ; 
there are also some melancholy companions in 
the way, which are our thoughts, but they turn 
many times to be good fellows and the best com- 
pany ; which makes me, that among these dis- 
consolate walls, I am never less alone than when 



192 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

I am alone, I am ofttimes sole, but seldom soli- 
tary; some there are who are over-pestered with 
these companions, and have too much mind for 
their bodies, but I am none of those. 

There have been (since you shook hands with 
England) many strange things happened here, 
which posterity must have a strong faith to be- 
lieve ; but for my part I wonder not at anything, 
I have seen such monstrous things. You know 
there is nothing that can be casual, there is no 
success, good or bad, but is contingent to man 
sometimes or other, nor are there any contin- 
gencies, present or future, but they have their 
parallels from times past; for the great wheel 
of fortune, upon whose rim (as the twelve signs 
upon the zodiac) all worldly chances are em- 
bossed, turns round perpetually, and the spokes 
of that wheel, which points at all human actions, 
return exactly to the same place after such a time 
of revolution, which makes me little marvel at any 
of the strange traverses of these distracted times, 
in regard there hath been the like, or such like 
formerly. If the liturgy is now suppressed, the 
missal and the Roman breviary was used so a 
hundred years since ; if crosses, church-windows, 
organs and fonts are now battered down I little 
wonder at it, for chapels, monasteries, hermitages, 
nunneries and other religious houses, were used so 
in the time of old King Henry; if bishops and 
deans are now in danger to be demolished, I little 
wonder at it, for abbots, priors, and the Pope 



OF JAMES HOWELL 193 

himself had that fortune here an age since. 
That our King is reduced to this pass, I do not 
wonder much at it, for the first time I travelled 
France, Louis the Thirteenth (afterwards a most 
triumphant king as ever that country had) in a 
dangerous civil war was brought to such straits, 
for he was brought to dispense with part of his 
coronation oath, to remove from his court of jus- 
tice, from the council table, from his very bed- 
chamber, his greatest favourites. He was driven 
to be content to pay the expense of the war, to 
reward those that took arms against him, and 
publish a declaration that the ground of their 
quarrel was good, which was the same in effect 
with ours, viz., a discontinuance of the assembly 
of the three estates, and that Spanish counsels did 
predominate in France. 

You know better than I that all events, good 
or bad, come from the all-disposing high Deity 
of heaven : if good. He produceth them ; if bad, 
He permits them. He is the Pilot that sits at the 
stern, and steers the great vessel of the world, and 
we must not presume to direct Him in His course, 
for He understands the use of the compass better 
than we. He commands also the winds and the 
weather, and after a storm He never fails to send 
us a calm, and to recompense ill times with better, 
if we can live to see them, which I pray you may 
do, whatever becomes of your still most faithful 
humble servitor, J. H. 

From the Fleet, London, 3 March 164.6. 



194 FAMILIAR LETTERS 



LXXVIII 

To Sir K, D., at his House in Saint Martin's 

Lane 

THAT poem which you pleased to approve 
of so highly in a manuscript is now manu- 
mitted, and made free denizen of the world. It 
hath gone from my study to the stall, from the 
pen to the press, and I send one of the maiden 
copies herewith to attend you. It was your judg- 
ment, which all the world holds to be sound and 
sterling, induced me hereunto; therefore, if there 
be any, you are to bear your part in the blame. 
Your most entirely devoted servitor, 

J.H. 
Holborn, 3 January 1641. 



EPILOGUE^ 
To the INTELLIGENT READER 

AMONGST other reasons which make the 
English language of so small extent, and 
put strangers out of conceit to learn it, one is that 
we do not pronounce as we write, which proceeds 
from divers superfluous letters that occur in many 
of our words, which adds to the difficulty of the 
language. Therefore the author hath taken pains 
to retrench such redundant, unnecessary letters 
in this work (though the printer hath not been 
so careful as he should have been), as amongst 
multitudes of other words may appear in these few, 
" done," " some," " come." Which, though we, 
to whom the speech is connatural, pronounce as 
monosyllables, yet when strangers come to read 
them, they are apt to make them dissyllables, as 
" do-ne," " so-me," " co-me," therefore such an e 
is superfluous. 

Moreover, those words that have the Latin for 
their original, the author prefers that orthography, 
rather than the French, whereby divers letters are 

^ This Epilogue was attached to the first edition of the Letters. 
Because of the conservative force of printer's *' style" Howeirs 
suggestions were not uniformly adopted in his own text. 



196 EPILOGUE 

spared, as " physic," " logic/' " Afric," not " phy- 
sique/' " logique/' " Afrique ;" "favor/' "honor/' 
" labor/' not " favour/' " honour/' " labour/' and 
very many more ; as also he omits the Dutch k in 
most words. Here you shall read " peeple " not 
" pe-ople/' " tresure " not " treasure/' " toung " 
not "tongue/' etc. "Parlement" not "Parlia- 
ment/' "busines/' " witnes/' "sicknes/' not "busi- 
nesse/' "witnesse/' " sicknesse ; " "star/' "war/' 
" far/' not " starre/' " warre/' " farre ; " and mul- 
titudes of such words, wherein the two last letters 
may well be spared. Here you shall also read 
" pity," " piety," " witty," not " piti-e," " pieti-e/' 
"witti-e," as strangers at first sight pronounce 
them, and abundance of suchlike words. 

The new academy of wits, called I'Academie 
des Beaux Esprits, which the late Cardinal de 
Richelieu founded in Paris, is now in hand to re- 
form the French language in this particular, and 
to weed it of all superfluous letters, which makes 
the tongue differ so much from the pen, that they 
have exposed themselves to this contumelious 
proverb : " The Frenchman doth neither pro- 
nounce as he writes, nor speak as he thinks, nor 
sing as he pricks." 

Aristotle hath a topic axiom, that " Frustra fit 
per plura, quod fieri potest per pauciora " (When 
fewer may serve the turn, more is in vain). And 
as this rule holds in all things else, so it may be 
very well observed in orthography. 

END OF VOLUME III 



CAMBRIDGE . MASSACHUSETTS 
U . S . A